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19:56 22nd January 2012
By  @OfficialQPR


QPR lifted themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone thanks to a well-earned 3-1 victory over fellow-strugglers Wigan Athletic.

Heidar Helguson put the R's into a 33rd-minute lead from the penalty spot, following James McCarthy's handball from a Joey Barton corner.

Akos Buzsaky then doubled Rangers' advantage on the stroke of half-time, firing home an exquisite free-kick in off the left-hand post from 25-yards out.

Wigan rarely threatened after the half-time break but Hugo Rodallega did pull a goal back on 66 minutes to ensure a grandstand finish, curling an outstanding effort from a free-kick into the top-right hand corner from distance.

Helguson missed a chance to restore the R's two-goal lead - again from the spot - when the home side were awarded another penalty in the 73rd minute, even though replays showed that Gary Caldwell's unfair challenge on Helguson came outside the box.

But Rangers would finally wrap up a deserved win on 81 minutes, after Tommy Smith's super effort from 30 yards sailed into the top left-hand corner.

Mark Hughes made four changes to his QPR side for this basement battle, following Tuesday night's third round FA Cup replay victory over Milton Keynes Dons.

Fitz Hall came in to replace the injured Danny Gabbidon (hip), while Barton returned from a three-game suspension at the expense of Shaun Derry in central midfield.

It was all change in attack too for Rangers, with Helguson and DJ Campbell coming in for Jay Bothroyd and Federico Macheda respectively.

There was also a spot on the bench for Peter Ramage, who recently returned from his loan spell at London neighbours Crystal Palace.

The R's lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Paddy Kenny in goal.

Luke Young, Fitz Hall, Anton Ferdinand and Clint Hill made up QPR's back four.

Jamie Mackie and Shaun Wright-Phillips began from the flanks in midfield, with skipper Barton and Buzsaky in the middle.

Top scorer Helguson was joined by Campbell in attack.

The definition of a six-pointer - this had all the makings of a real cracker prior to kick-off.

Eighteenth-placed Rangers knew that victory would take them some five points clear of bottom-of-the-table Wigan in the now-simmering struggle for Premier League survival.

In turn, a win for the Latics would take them above QPR.

It will come of no surprise, therefore, that the opening stanza made for an understandably ugly spectacle. Both sides struggled to string a real flurry of passes together.

Despite that close start, Wigan missed a gilt-edged chance to take the lead in the third minute.

Jordi Gomez's inch-perfect free-kick from the left found an unmarked Steve Gohouri who, 12-yards out, saw a side-footed effort drift just wide of the target.

Play then switched to the other end. Wright-Phillips swivelled beautifully away from his marker before firing a cross-come-shot straight into the hands of Ali Al Habsi.

The visitors soon went close again. Victor Moses burst away from Young down the left before drilling a low centre across the face of goal that, despite a whole host of waiting bodies in the box, somehow went wide without a touch.

Five minutes later, Mackie's ball into the path of Campbell saw the former Blackpool marksman execute a clever dummy for Helguson, who skipped towards goal before dragging a shot from 20 yards well wide.

This contest was being fought out in the midst of some swirling wind - conditions that almost gave Rangers a helping hand, and the lead, in the 14th minute.

Young sped away down the right following a clever pass from Barton, before his subsequent centre appeared to be heading into the top left-hand corner. Al Habsi, however, was on hand at the last minute to tip the ball over the bar.

Rangers were enjoying more possession as the half wore on. On 16 minutes, Mackie dispossessed Emmerson Boyce and, when the ball eventually deflected into the path of Campbell, he could only drag an effort wide of the right-hand post from 18 yards.

The best moment of the match to date arrived on 29 minutes. Buzsaky turned his marker superbly well following Wright-Phillips' pass, before firing a spectacular effort inches wide of the left-hand post from distance.

Two minutes later, the industrious Mackie eventually wriggled past his marker before seeing a 25-yard bullet effort blocked away for a corner by the fist of Al Habsi.

From the resultant set-piece, QPR were awarded a penalty. Barton's corner from the left was blocked by the outstretched hand of McCarthy, leaving referee Mr Moss with little other option but to point for the spot.

Helguson stepped up to take the subsequent kick and made no mistake, expertly tucking away his shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net - despite a valiant effort from Al Habsi to keep the ball out - for his eighth league strike of the campaign.

The goal lifted Loftus Road into life and the home crowd almost saw a second goal for their team on 41 minutes, after Buzsaky's free-kick from 30 yards was palmed wide by Al Habsi.

The Magical Magyar wasn't to be denied at the second time of asking, however, doubling Rangers' advantage with a simply stunning effort from a free-kick.

Campbell was brought down by Gohouri on 25 yards, before the Hungarian midfield man sized up the target and curled home a sumptuous strike that went in off the left-hand post.

Suffering from the challenge that led to Buzsaky's goal, Campbell was forced to come off at half-time, replaced by Smith.

Despite now holding a two-goal cushion, Hughes' men continued to press forward at the start of the second period.

Buzsaky almost pulled off another spectacular effort on 59 minutes, taking one touch to set himself after Wright-Phillips' pass before his gorgeous half-volley from the edge of the box - that appeared to be heading into the top right-hand corner - forced an equally fine save from Al Habsi.

At the other end, Gomez's tame effort from outside the box forced a comfortable stop by Kenny.

There was little that the R's number one could do about Wigan's next attempt, however, as the visitors pulled a goal back to ensure a nervy finale.

Buzsaky was penalised for a foul on Maynor Figueroa 25 yards from goal, before Rodallega bent a wonderful effort into the top right-hand corner, leaving the watching Kenny with no chance.

Moments later, the Latics spurned a great chance to put themselves on terms.

Ronnie Stam freed fellow substitute Conor Sammon in the box, but the Irish forward could only shoot wide of the left-hand post from close range.

QPR were handed a controversial penalty - their second spot-kick of the afternoon - in the 73rd minute.

Caldwell was punished for a push into the back of Helguson, with referee Mr Moss once again pointing to the spot.

Video replays, however, suggested that the challenge came outside of the box.

Perhaps justice was done, therefore, when Al Habsi dived to his right to tip away Helguson's second penalty of the afternoon with a magnificent stop.

Helguson almost redeemed himself just two minutes later, with his outrageous snap-shot from range only just going past the right-hand post.

Rangers were soon on the attack again, with Mackie lashing an effort over the bar on 78 minutes, following Wright-Phillips' measured ball.

But victory was finally secure for the R's nine minutes from time thanks to another splendid strike.

Barton's outstanding sliding tackle started the move, before Wright-Phillips found substitute Smith.

Thereafter, the former Watford man drove at the Latics defence before curling a fabulous effort into the top left-hand corner of the net from fully 30 yards.

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