SHAUN Maloney struck deep into second-half stoppage time to cruelly deny ten-man QPR what would have been a timely boost in their battle to avoid relegation.
The former Celtic man scored direct from a free-kick in the fourth minute of time added on, after Stephane Mbia was penalised for a foul on Maloney himself.
Earlier, Loic Remy looked to have handed Rangers – who had Bobby Zamora sent off in the 20th minute after a high challenge on Jordi Gomez – victory five minutes from time after latching on to an Mbia pass on the counter attack.
But it wasn’t to be, as Maloney curled home from 20 yards in the dying embers to earn Wigan a precious point.
QPR – who made one change to the side that started Monday night’s defeat at Fulham, with Junior Hoilett replacing Adel Taarabt – began the first half on the front foot.
It was Rangers – and striker Remy – who missed an excellent chance to lead in the opening five minutes. Andros Townsend’s centre into the box was dummied smartly by Zamora, but the Frenchman fluffed his lines.
Wigan’s first sighting of goal came in the eight minute. Callum McManaman, however, was unable to test R’s custodian Julio Cesar after neat build-up play saw the visitors work the ball into the penalty area.
QPR went closest yet just a minute later – again following a Townsend cross. The Tottenham Hotspur loanee’s ball was cushioned superbly by the head of Hoilett for Remy, whose fierce half-volley crashed off the face of the post.
The contest – which became increasingly open as the half progressed – swung Wigan’s way when the home side were reduced to 10 men in the 20th minute.
Zamora’s high challenge on Gomez saw the Latics midfielder collapse to the ground and, after consultation with his fellow officials, Phil Dowd reached for a red card.
Unsurprisingly, Wigan enjoyed plenty of possession for the remainder of the half. Though the Loftus Road crowd were still in fine voice, willing their team forward at every available opportunity.
Gomez soon saw a left-footed drive easily collected by Cesar before McManaman shot just over. Better chances, however, fell the way of McManaman again and James McCarthy.
The former’s low fizzer just evaded the foot of the left-hand post, before Cesar produced a smart parry from McCarthy’s effort from distance.
Rangers made a substitution at half-time, with Nedum Onuoha brought on in place of Armand Traore.
The second period started in similar vein to how the first ended, with Wigan enjoying more than their fair share of possession – and the R’s breaking opportunely.
Onuoha’s introduction was soon followed that of Taarabt, with the Moroccan coming on for Hoilett in the 56th minute.
Despite Wigan’s wealth of possession, there were no clear-cut chances in the second period come the hour mark.
The first chance of the half came in the 61st minute, falling QPR’s way.
Substitute Taarabt was heavily involved, sending over a delicious cross for Remy with the outside of his right foot before the former Marseille frontman glanced a header just a whisker wide of the post. Rangers so nearly led.
Eight minutes later, the hosts went close again. Wigan were penalised for a foul on Mbia 25-yards out and when Townsend stepped up, he curled a free-kick just over.
The game, in truth, petered out towards its climax, with neither side looking likely to break the deadlock.
Wigan eventually came mightily close in the 77th minute but were unable to find a way past Cesar, who pulled off a stunning point-blank stop to deny substitute James McArthur.
Rangers stole into the lead five minutes from time to send Loftus Road into raptures.
Harry Redknapp’s side broke on the counter attack from a Wigan free-kick through Mbia, before the Cameroonian passed for Remy to slam home an unstoppable effort from 20 yards.
But the Latics had the last say, equalising in the final 30 seconds.
Play was pulled back for an Mbia foul and Maloney gave Cesar little chance with a free-kick effort from just outside the box.