QPR went down to a 3-1 defeat against Manchester City, despite a brave second-half display at the Etihad Stadium.
Yaya Toure put the Barclays Premier League champions into a 16th-minute lead after David Silva’s corner eventually fell into his path on 12 yards.
Rangers responded when Bobby Zamora headed home after half-time when an Andy Johnson effort was only parried by Joe Hart – but it was City who would ultimately run out victors.
First, Carlos Tevez’s cross was guided home by the head of Edin Dzeko two minutes later, before the same duo combined for the former to strike in second-half stoppage time.
Mark Hughes made six changes to his team for the trip to Eastlands but stuck with the 4-4-2 formation deployed in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Walsall at Loftus Road.
Esteban Granero was handed his QPR debut following Thursday’s move from Real Madrid, while Ale Faurlin made his first league start in eight months following a serious knee injury.
Elsewhere, there were starts for Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Nelsen and former City fans’ favourite Shaun Wright-Phillips. Johnson also started alongside Zamora in attack.
Hosts City enjoyed much of the early play and went close after just three minutes when Samir Nasri’s corner was headed wide by Dzeko.
Five minutes later, intricate build-up play from City saw Nasri and Silva combine before the latter crossed for Toure, whose nod across goal forced a comfortable catch from Rob Green.
The home side went mightily close to taking the lead in the 11th minute. Nasri’s corner was headed towards goal by Dzeko – but Fabio da Silva was on hand to clear the ball off the line.
City eventually took the lead on 16 minutes. Tevez’s effort from a Silva corner deflected up into the path of Toure on 12 yards, who smashed home a downward half-volley.
QPR’s first notable effort on goal came after 24 minutes. Debutant Granero and Park exchanged a neat one-two, before the former’s low blast was held by Hart.
City should have doubled their lead two minutes later. Tevez and Silva worked the ball into the path of Nasri in the box, whose close-range effort forced fantastic point-blank save from Green.
Rangers grew in confidence as the half wore on but were always susceptible to the City counter attack – as is expected when you visit the Premier League champions.
That point was exemplified 11 minutes before the break. The Blues broke and eventually found Silva who, through on goal, saw his shot blocked by an excellent last-ditch intervention from Fabio.
City could have doubled their advantage under a minute after the half-time interval.
Dzeko capitalised on a loose pass before finding Tevez in the box, whose effort – albeit from a tight angle – forced a smart save from Green.
The hosts went even closer six minutes later. Silva slipped a lovely pass into the path of Pablo Zabaleta in the box who, away from his marker, saw a curling effort crash off the bar.
The R’s fashioned their first attempt of the second half in the 57th minute. Patient passing play from Hughes’s side ended in Fabio crossing for Zamora. His header looped just over.
Zamora wouldn’t pass at the next opportunity, however, heading the Hoops level two minutes later.
Johnson did well to win back possession for Rangers and, when he drove into the box and saw a shot only parried by Hart, Zamora stole in to head home from all of a yard out.
It took City only two minutes to restore their lead.
Kolarov put Tevez in down the left-hand side of the box, whose resultant looped centre was nodded home by an unmarked Dzeko.
Undeterred, Rangers continued to attack. Bosingwa guided a low effort straight at Hart on 66 minutes
At the other end, Faurlin was dispossessed by Silva before the Spanish wizard freed Dzeko, who dragged a low effort past the post.
The R’s almost levelled for a second time in the 76th minute. Granero’s corner was nodded back across goal by substitute Nedum Onuoha, before Nelsen dragged a 10-yard shot agonisingly wide.
And Granero was soon in the thick of the action once again, seeing an angled free-kick from the left evade everyone before dropping just wide of the far post.
City put a stop to any Rangers comeback when they added a third goal in second-half injury time, with Tevez turning home Dzeko’s low drive.