THERE was late, late drama at the Riverside Stadium, as injury-time strikes from Bobby Zamora and Ravel Morrison saw Rangers snatch a 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough.
Zamora capitalised on an error by Boro goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos to score a crucial second goal, before Morrison helped round off the win with a neat finish at the death.
Earlier, Yossi Benayoun equalised for QPR from close range on the stroke of half-time, in what was mostly an even spectacle on Teesside.
George Friend put Boro into an 18th-minute lead via the hands of Rob Green.
R’s boss Harry Redknapp made some six changes to his side following defeat in midweek at Sheffield Wednesday.
‘Keeper Green returned from injury. Meanwhile, Benayoun, Tom Carroll, Will Keane, Niko Kranjcar and Yun Suk-Young also started.
Richard Dunne missed out owing to suspension, Karl Henry with the flu, while Junior Hoilett, Brian Murphy, Gary O’Neil and Zamora all dropped to the bench.
Rangers went on the attack from kick-off and only a smart double save from Konstantopoulos prevented the visitors from taking a second-minute lead.
Good work from a corner by Kranjcar and Morrison eventually saw the ball worked to the edge of the box for Joey Barton. The midfielder’s shot was parried by Konstantopoulos into the path of Carroll, who saw his effort diverted away for a corner by the ‘keeper.
The first 15 minutes made for an open contest, with both sides looking to press forward at every available opportunity.
Green was forced into his first save of the afternoon in the 14th minute when he blocked away Jacob Butterfield’s long-range shot.
But the R’s shot-stopper was unable to keep out Boro when they took an 18th-minute lead.
Friend’s marauding run saw the left-back ride three separate challenges before his low effort squirmed out of Green’s grasp and in.
The home side had much more possession following the opening goal. Dean Whitehead saw a shot deflected just over, while Green saved well following a powerful, low drive from Friend.
The first half yielded few more opportunities. Morrison went close but saw a 20-yard blast tipped over.
But Rangers drew level just before half-time. Kranjcar’s effort deflected into the path of Benayoun, who shot into the roof of the net from close range in first-half stoppage time.
Much like the first period, the second half started in open fashion.
Kranjcar had an effort deflected wide, while the visitors also threatened when Suk-Young broke into space down the left, only to see his cross evade everyone in the box. Hughes’ centre from the right almost found the outstretched foot of Keane, too, in the 58th minute.
Come the hour mark, there was little to choose between the two teams. Hoilett was brought on to replace Kranjcar in the 60th minute, while Zamora followed in place of Keane two minutes later.
And there was also little in the way of clear chances. Nathaniel Chalobah’s effort from range – comfortably collected by Green – was the first time either goalkeeper had been called into action after the interval.
O’Neil was brought on for Benayoun in the 76th minute for Rangers’ third and final substitution.
Albert Adomah, substitute Hoilett, Morrison and Friend, most notably, were all unsuccessful with efforts in the closing minutes.
There was, however, to be late drama – and two Rangers goals – after five minutes of added time went up on the board.
First, Konstantopoulos’ error from a back-pass put Zamora in the clear to tap home.
And when Morrison broke free in the fifth minute of stoppage time – he buried an effort into the bottom right-hand corner to send the 533 travelling QPR fans home happy.