A FIRST half brace from Luis Suarez and a Daniel Agger header condemned QPR to a third straight defeat in the Barclays Premier League.
Rangers signed off 2012 at the bottom of the table after a disastrous opening 30 minutes at Loftus Road that saw them go 3-0 down.
And that now leaves Harry Redknapp’s side eight points off safety ahead of Wednesday’s trip to arch rivals Chelsea.
Redknapp, who took charge of his 600th Premier League match, made four changes for the visit of Liverpool. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar was recalled after a five game absence whilst Diakite and Onuoha were also handed starting roles. Centre-back Ryan Nelsen returned after missing the Boxing Day defeat to West Bromwich Albion with flu.
Luis Suarez registered his intent inside the opening three minutes. Twice the forward had got the better of the R’s defence already but it was a slip from captain Clint Hill that forced Cesar into a two handed save when the Uruguay striker tested the stopper from outside the penalty box.
However, that proved to be just a warm-up for Liverpool’s number 7 when he was allowed space to run at Hill - catching him flat footed outside the area before skipping around the outside - to beat Cesar from 10-yards and hand Liverpool a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes.
By this point Suarez was running the show for the visitors and he soon made it 2-0 to his side with his second goal of the afternoon. Downing picked out Suarez on the wing, ex-QPR trainee Rahem Sterling was unable to control his cross which rather fortunately found its way back to Suarez in the 6-yard box allowing the Uruguayan to smash it past Cesar into the far corner with just 16 minutes on the clock.
Mbia registered Rangers first chance in the 22nd minute with a speculative overhead kick that found its way into the travelling Liverpool fans behind Jose Reina’s goal before Ryan Nelsen at the other end had to divert Glenn Johnson’s cross over the bar with Suarez waiting at the back post to pounce for his hattrick. From the resulting corner the ball found its way out to Gerrard in space on the edge of the R’s area. Cesar spilled his shot, fortunately away from the danger area.
However, that was just a brief respite for Rangers who soon found themselves 3-0 down thanks to a header from Daniel Agger. Joe Allen rolled his corner short to Gerrard who was able to pick out the Danish centre-back to head home his second goal of the season after 28 minutes.
Rangers blushes were spared 10 minutes later when Suarez out muscled Nelson in the six-yard box for his pull-back to find Gerrard hovering inside the penalty area. Luckily for QPR, Nelsen was able to make amends by blocking the England skippers side footed shot on the line as the R’s cleared with Adel Taarabt testing Reina at the other end from outside the 18-yard box.
Taarabt then fired wide from distance on the stroke of half-time as Rangers signed off a forgettable first half at Loftus Road.
After the break Shaun Derry replaced Djibril Cisse but it was Suarez who again caused the main threat as Nelsen gave the ball away on the edge of R’s penalty area allowing the visitors top scorer force Cesar into a diving save.
Henderson was then allowed to fire over unmarked outside the box after Downing picked out the ex-Sunderland midfielder from his corner.
Armand Traore flashed a cross along the face of goal that only needed a touch but Mackie was unable to get there in time as Rangers capatilised on the space in the middle to release Taarabt but he opted to shoot when there looked better options available to the Moroccan.
Redknapp introduced Spanish midfielder Esteban Granero for Diakite and his first job was to tamely shoot wide with a free-kick from 20-yards before Mbia found Reina’s arms from 30-yards. The Cameroon midfielder then curled wide in the 69th minute after Mackie pulled the ball back for him on the edge of the box.
Substitute Lucas fouled Taarabt on the edge of the area with eight minutes remaining and Mbia’s resulting free-kick failed to test Reina.
That was the final real chance in a match that Rangers failed to get to grips with. 2013 will be a year with a whole new set of challenges for Redknapp and his charges.