QPR let a one-goal lead slip as Manchester United came from behind to win 3-1 at Old Trafford.
Jamie Mackie’s opener capped a much-improved display from the R’s early in the second half but three goals in the space of eight minutes quashed any hopes of an unlikely victory.
Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher both headed home from corners before substitute Javier Hernandez coolly finished from six yards to ensure Mark Bowen’s temporary reign ended in defeat.
Following Mark Hughes’ departure on Friday, assistant manager Bowen and first team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki took temporary charge of first team affairs for the daunting trip to the 19-time league champions.
Meanwhile, newly appointed R’s manager Harry Redknapp was an interested onlooker in the stands fresh from being announced as Hughes’ successor prior to kick-off.
The Hoops made five changes from the XI that lost to Southampton last weekend including recalls for Mackie, Clint Hill, Shaun Derry and Kieron Dyer.
Stephane Mbia retained his place amongst the back four following the completion of his three-match suspension.
Despite their lowly position in the table, the R’s made a confident start in the early exchanges, forcing the first corner of the game after seven minutes.
At the opposite end, the hosts looked to exploit the flanks and came close to taking the lead after good work from Rafael Da Silva on 16 minutes. The Brazilian’s pullback found Robin van Persie but, after his goalbound effort was blocked, Paul Scholes could only poke the rebound into Julio Cesar’s grateful arms under pressure from Shaun Derry.
United were in behind four minutes later, this time from the left, as van Persie again threatened to breach the visitors’ stronghold.
Danny Welbeck’s centre from the by-line sat up nicely for the Dutchman, but his half-volley rippled the side netting to the relief of the travelling R’s faithful.
Pressure on Cesar’s goal was mounting, though, with Ashley Young the next to narrowly miss the target.
The winger’s dipping left-footed effort had Cesar scrambling to his left as the ball flashed past the near post.
Rangers’ three-pronged attack of Djibril Cisse, Adel Taarabt and Mackie ensured the R’s remained a danger on the counter-attack. Only a last ditch challenge from Wayne Rooney prevented the latter from getting a shot away after calmly dispossessing Scholes in midfield.
Cesar was proving the busier of the two goalkeepers, twice denying Wayne Rooney in as many minutes. The Brazilian stood up well to save with his legs on 34 minutes, before palming away Rooney’s stinging drive from the edge of the area from the next attack.
Buoyed by Cesar’s resistance, the West Londoners finished the half with a flurry, twice threatening to silence the home masses in the closing eight minutes of the half.
First Mackie’s diving header from Cisse’s cross-field ball was disallowed for offside, before Anders Lindegaard was called upon in added time to catch Taarabt’s curling effort.
The R’s renewed optimism continued after the re-start and Bowen’s men were rewarded for their efforts with the opening goal seven minutes after the re-start.
After Dyer was given a second chance to deliver from a corner, Mackie was on hand to stab home from a yard out. The goal was just reward for a typically spirited display from the Scot, who reeled away to celebrate in front of the jubilant R’s support.
United pressed for an immediate reply but continued to be left frustrated following a succession of corners as the hour mark approached.
Anton Ferdinand was brought on after 61 minutes for Traore as a resolute Rangers side looked to preserve their unlikely advantage.
Their resistance was broken soon after, though, as United restored parity on 64 minutes. Rooney’s corner was headed back into the danger area by Welbeck, where Jonny Evans pounced to nod home the leveller.
Worse was to follow as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men completed the quick-fire turnaround four minutes later. Another Rooney corner proved the R’s undoing, with Fletcher the beneficiary this time around. The combative midfielder was left unmarked in the centre to power his header beyond Cesar.
The onslaught from the Red Devils was unrelenting and it wasn’t long before a third goal was in the offing. Two substitutes combined as Anderson’s marauding run released Hernandez, who nonchalantly slid the ball past Cesar on 72 minutes.
QPR’s dugout responded by brining on Junior Hoilett as Taarabt made way for the remaining 17 minutes.
Respite was brief for the visitors and the change did little to quell the continued United assault.
Neat interplay between Rooney and van Persie carved out another opening for the ex-Gunners man, who skewed wide from six yards.
Esteban Granero was next off the bench for the visitors, replacing Ale Faurlin on 84 minutes.
And it was the Spaniard’s corner two minutes from time which almost saw the visitors reduce the deficit. Hill’s flicked header looked destined for the net but Rafael’s intervention on the line ensured United maintained their two-goal cushion and maximum points come full-time.