QPR well beaten on final day by Norwich
PUBLISHED: 14:30 07 May 2017
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Norwich City 4 QPR 0
Two late goals sent Queens Park Rangers to a heavy defeat in Norfolk on the last day of the Sky Bet Championship season.
Ian Holloway’s men were trailing to goals either side of the half-time break from Wes Hoolahan and Alex Pritchard, going into the final minutes at Carrow Road.
But they conceded a third to Josh Murphy five minutes from time and Hoolahan claimed his second of the day in stoppage time to condemn Rangers to a seventh defeat in their last eight matches of the campaign, which they ended just two points above the relegation zone in 18th place.
Republic of Ireland midfielder Hoolahan – Norwich’s player of the season – opened the scoring in a low-key final-day fixture midway through the first half.
Rangers improved after a dreadful start but rarely threatened to work their way into the game, with the defeat leaving them grateful they had beaten Nottingham Forest last weekend to steer themselves away from the bottom three.
It took a goal-line block from Joel Lynch to prevent Nelson Oliveira from opening the scoring in the second minute and the one-way traffic continued in the opening stages.
Alex Smithies pulled off a superb stop low to his right to keep out Murphy’s snap-shot, while the flying winger then clipped the crossbar from long range.
John Ruddy, making his final appearance for Norwich after his release was announced in midweek, was then forced into action to keep out a low drive from Conor Washington, but it was the hosts who were dominating proceedings.
A goal just had to come and it duly arrived in 22nd minute as the Rangers defence stood back and looked on as Hoolahan picked up the ball in central midfield and had all the space he needed to jink his way through before firing low into the corner from just outside the box.
Later in the half Pritchard also tried his luck by running at the heart of a ragged visiting defence, and got in a shot that was deflected just wide.
The Canaries had dominated the opening period, but it required an excellent fingertip save from Ruddy to prevent the visitors from drawing level as he tipped a rising drive from Pawel Wszolek onto the bar.
It was a more even game after the break, with Rs substitute Luke Freeman curling a free-kick just wide for the visitors, but it was Norwich who doubled their advantage on the hour mark.
When Hoolahan found Pritchard in the box, the midfielder’s first effort was blocked but the ball bounced back to Pritchard and he made no mistake with his second effort, volleying the ball past Smithies.
Hoolahan then had a powerful shot saved by the Rangers goalkeeper as Norwich upped the tempo and several more chances came and went before Murphy drilled the ball home in the 85th minute after being put through by Hoolahan.
The Irishman then fittingly had the final say in stoppage time, sending the ball into an unguarded net after the chance had been set up by substitute Cameron Jerome.
QPR: Smithies, Perch, Onuoha, Lynch, Robinson (Bowler 69), Wszolek, Luongo, Doughty, Manning, Washington (Grego-Cox 81), Smith (Freeman 46). Unused subs: Goss, Ingram, Petrasso, Furlong.
Referee: Tim Robinson.