Norwich City 2 Queens Park Rangers 0: Unhappy night for Holloway's men
PUBLISHED: 21:46 16 August 2017 | UPDATED: 21:46 16 August 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
Queens Park Rangers saw their unbeaten start to the Championship season come to an end at Carrow Road.
Boss Ian Holloway had not enjoyed his previous two trips to Norfolk, with his Millwall side thumped 6-1 in 2015 and Rangers going down 4-0 on the last day of last season.
And he completed an unwanted hat-trick of defeats as Norwich scored twice in the second half to secure their first win of the 2017-18 campaign.
Holloway named an unchanged R’s side for the third match in a row, following his side’s opening-day win over Reading and 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and the visitors had an early chance on four minutes when the ball dropped to Jake Bidwell in the box, but he sent his shot high over the crossbar.
Jamie Mackie forced Angus Gunn into a save moments later, before the hosts had their best spell of the opening period and Marcel Franke forced Alex Smithies to make a fine save at close range on 16 minutes.
Nelson Miguel Castro Oliveira then tried a speculative effort from a difficult angle, but the R’s keeper was equal to it and Josh Murphy cut in from the left before forcing a good save with a curling attempt.
The visitors were forced to make a change just before the half-hour mark as Pawel Wszolek appeared to aggravate a hamstring and was replaced by Kazenga Lualua and Norwich remained on top, forcing Smithies to tip away a corner.
Nedum Ohuoha blocked a James Maddison shot, as R’s remained under pressure, but they weathered the storm and went close to breaking the deadlock two minutes before the break when great work by Conor Washington saw him find space and send in a cross for a looping header from Mackie, which dropped on to the roof of the Norwich net.
The second half was only three minutes old when Oliveira broke the deadlock, slotting home from a Mario Vrancic through ball.
But Luke Freeman had a chance for an immediate response when well placed in the box, only to fire straight at Gunn on 50 minutes, before Josh Scowen blazed over following a corner.
Smithies was quickly off his line to smother the ball at the feet of Wes Hoolahan just before the hour mark, after the Norwich playmaker went clean through on goal.
But R’s had a great chance to get back on level terms when Lualua saw a shot saved by Gunn, the ball broke to Mackie and he teed up Washington, but his scuffed effort was saved by the Canaries keeper.
Holloway sent Darnell Furlong on for Joel Lynch soon after and Matt Smith replaced Mackie with 19 minutes remaining in Norfolk and a good run by Scowen was ended by a Russell Martin foul, which saw the Norwich player booked before Scowen fired the free-kick over.
Josh Murphy fizzed a shot just off target for the hosts on 78 minutes, but Lualua then sent a speculative attempt wide for R’s seconds later.
Norwich doubled their advantage in stunning style, though, as Harrison Reed moved into space and fired into the top corner of the net, giving Smithies absolutely no chance.
And Washington fired wide from an acute angle in the last minute of normal time as R’s finished empty handed.
Holloway will hope for better when his side return to Loftus Road to host Hull City on Saturday.
QPR: Smithies, Onuoha, Perch, Lynch (Furlong 64), Wszolek (Lualua 29), Scowen, Luongo, Freeman, Bidwell, Washington, Mackie (Smith 71). Unused subs: Ingram, Manning, Borysiuk, Robinson.