Queens Park Rangers batter Birmingham for big win
PUBLISHED: 17:07 18 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 18 February 2017
Birmingham City 1 Queens Park Rangers 4
Queens Park Rangers produced a stunning result on the road to beat Championship rivals Birmingham at St Andrew’s.
Matt Smith’s first goal for the club set them on their way, with Conor Washington doubling the advantage at the start of the second half.
Substitutes Idrissa Sylla and Yeni N’Gbakoto struck in quick succession late on, before Blues grabbed a last-gasp consolation as victory moved Rangers seven points clear of the relegation zone and up to 16th.
an Holloway made three changes to his side following the home defeat against Huddersfield a week earlier, with Darnell Furlong, Joel Lynch and Luke Freeman coming in for James Perch, Massimo Luongo and Jamie Mackie, who all dropped to the bench.
And the visitors, having won just once on their last 10 visits to St Andrew’s (in 2014), saw Ryan Manning volley well over on four minutes, after some good work from Smith to set up the chance.
Freeman had a shot saved moments later, with Smith’s follow-up attempt blocked by the Blues defence, but Rangers had a let-off on 13 minutes when Emilio Nsue wasted a good headed chance from Jerome Sinclair’s cross.
Rangers were back on the attack soon after as Smith pounced on a poor header and lobbed Tomasz Kuszczak, but saw the ball cleared off the line.
And the deadlock was broken on 18 minutes when Freeman’s corner picked out Smith to thunder a header into the net and claim his first goal for the club.
Birmingham’s Robert Tesche was booked for a foul on Washington as the home side’s frustrations grew and they were forced to replace Cheick Keita with Paul Robinson just past the half-hour mark due to injury.
Smith went close to doubling his side’s lead with another header that was pushed away by Kuszczak, who also denied Pawel Wszolek from Manning’s excellent cross on 33 minutes.
The hosts rallied and Che Adams had a shot blocked by Grant Hall, before Sinclair’s deflected shot clipped the crossbar and Stewart sent a free-kick clear of the target.
Manning’s cross broke for Smith in the box two minutes before the interval, but his shot was saved by Kuszczak, and Hall had to make a telling intervention to deny Adams during stoppage time.
The visitors doubled their advantage soon after the restart when Washingon struck a crisp shot into the bottom corner of the Blues net with barely two minutes played.
Lynch was shown a yellow card soon after for a foul on half-time substitute Kerim Frei, with Robinson joining him in the referee’s notebook before Jonathan Grounds had a shot blocked for Gianfranco Zola’s side.
Having signed a new deal to stay at Rangers until 2020, Alex Smithies denied Sinclair on the hour mark with a low save, while opposite number Kuszczak tipped over Hall’s header from a 64th-minute corner.
Sinclair glanced a header just wide from a Greg Stewart free-kick midway through the half, then turned provider with a cross for Nsue who sent a shot just past the post,
and Rangers had another let-off on 81 minutes when Stewart missed the target with a close-range header.
But Sylla claimed a third for Rangers, moments after replacing Smith, with a diving header from Pawel Wszolek’s cross and fellow substitute N’Gbakoto added a stunning fourth, smashing home a free-kick from 30 yards, to cap a great day for Holloway’s men, before a late, late reply from Nsue.
Rangers will now look to transfer some of their fine away form to Loftus Road when they welcome struggling Wigan on Tuesday.
QPR: Smithies, Onuoha, Hall, Lynch, Furlong, Manning, Freeman, Bidwell, Wszolek (Lua Lua 85), Smith (Sylla 80), Washington (N’Gbakoto 85).
Unused subs: Mackie, Ingram, Luongo, Perch.