QPR remained at the top of the table with a comfortable 2-0 win against Middlesbrough this afternoon.
Midfielder Joey Barton sent the R’s on their way with his first QPR goal in over 17 months before Charlie Austin added a second from the penalty spot midway through the second half.
At the other end Rob Green’s seventh consecutive clean sheet equaled the club record as Rangers continued their unbeaten start to the season.
Redknapp handed a home debut to Croatian playmaker Niko Kranjcar whilst Ale Faurlin was handed a surprise start in midfield.
QPR started brightly and the Loftus Road crowd only had to wait four minutes to see witness the opening goal.
A series of slick passing moves saw the ball fed out to Danny Simpson on the right hand side. His low cross into the Middlesbrough box was pushed away by keeper Jason Steele - only as far as Joey Barton on the edge of the penalty area – allowing the midfielder to steer the ball into back of the net courtesy of a slight deflection from Boro’s Frazer Richardson on the line.
At the other end Robert Green comfortably dealt with Grant Leadbitter’s free-kick after the R’s conceded a foul on the edge of the penalty area before the R’s stopper saved Kei Kamara’s deflected shot soon after.
A late foul on Barton by Jozsef Varga went unpunished by referee Darren Deadman but he was soon back on his feet as his ball into Austin’s feet allowed the striker to turn before dragging an effort wide of the target from just outside the box.
It continued to be one way traffic as Rangers looked to add a second and when Faurlin was sent to ground inside the Boro penalty area the R’s were left to appeal unsuccessfully for a penalty.
However, QPR didn’t have to wait long to get another opportunity from the spot as Deadman awarded them a penalty minutes later. Austin shot but it was blocked, the ball rebounded to O’Neil loitering on the edge of the area. His effort was kept out by the hands of Boro debutant Ben Gibson leaving Deadman with no option but to point to the spot. Austin – who scored from 12-yards seven days earlier at Yeovil – stepped up and made no mistake again sending Steele the wrong way to put Rangers 2-0 up.
Not content with their second goal – the first time since the R’s had scored twice in a league match since the opening day – Clint Hill went close to adding a third with a header from Barton’s corner however the Rangers captain was unable to keep it on target.
The visitors made two changes at the break and very nearly took advantage of a rare O’Neil mistake through one of those substitutes Lukas Jutkiewicz but he lashed high and wide from distance.
A foul on Tom Carroll ten minutes after the restart wasn’t given and that allowed Jutkiewicz to test Green again from 20-yards but the R’s stopper continued to keep his cleansheet run intact gathering comfortably.
However, play soon switched back to the other end and Gary O’Neil was denied a first goal in QPR Hoops by the fingertips of custodian Steele after Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s ball into the feet of Faurlin was cushioned back to the ex-West Ham midfielder patrolling the 18-yard line.
QPR looked a threat from every set-piece and when Dunne pulled Barton’s corner back into the danger zone unfortunately for the R’s Steele was in the right place at the right time in the Middlesbrough goal to prevent O’Neil’s guided shot from the edge of the box.
Jutkiewicz twisted and turned Dunne, but his shot was fired high over the bar 15 minutes from time before R’s skipper Clint Hill was forced off with an injury. That saw youngster Max Ehmer replace him in defence to make his QPR debut.
Content with their lead Rangers played out injury time in a conservative manner to secure another three points at Loftus Road with their lead remaining three points at the summit of the table.