THREE breath-taking late goals lit up Loftus Road as QPR returned to winning ways following a seven-goal thriller with Nottingham Forest.
Rangers seemed to set the share the spoils in Saturday’s early kick-off after first-half strikes from Yossi Benayoun – netting within 70 seconds – and Junior Hoilett were both cancelled out.
Harry Redknapp’s side weren’t to be denied, though, as quick-fire strikes from Nedum Onuoha, Ravel Morrison and substitute Bobby Zamora fired the R’s back into third ahead of the weekend’s Championship action.
Redknapp welcomed Charlie Austin back to Loftus Road for the first time since January. The R’s striker – one of three changes to the starting XI – was handed his first start after returning from injury twice as a substitute in the seven days previous.
Rangers, looking to bounce back in W12 after successive defeats on the road, made the ideal start. Hoilett’s pull-back allowed Tom Carroll to fire a shot on goal and, after his effort was only parried by Karl Darlow, Benayoun stooped to head the R’s in front with the game less than 70 seconds old.
The early breakthrough settled Rangers, who enjoyed the opening stages but it was Forest who fashioned the next effort on 12 minutes. Henri Lansbury found space 25 yards out but saw his stinging drive superbly tipped over by Rob Green.
Redknapp was forced into an early change as Jermaine Jenas’ return lasted just 14 minutes. The midfielder limped off against his boyhood club, replaced by Karl Henry in central midfield.
The alteration did little to halt the R’s progress, who carved out two more chances in as many minutes. First Hoilett slid Benayoun’s through ball inches wide of the far post, before Austin came agonisingly close to connecting with Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s teasing cross from the left.
Rangers would rue not adding to their tally as Forest levelled the scores on 37 minutes. Lansbury’s corner was met by Jamaal Lascelles, who dispatched his glancing header from six yards into the far corner.
Parity wasn’t restored for long, though, as Rangers regained the lead two minutes before the break. Hoilett, a constant threat down the R’s left flank, bustled his way into the box from Tom Carroll’s lay-off before sneaking his shot past Darlow at the near post.
Rangers felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty after the interval when Hoilett’s cross seemed to strike Daniel Fox’s hand. Referee Oliver Langford, though, was unmoved.
Chances were few and far between for the most part, though, as Rangers successfully kept Forest at bay. That included the 68th minute, when Danny Simpson was on hand to clear Greg Halford’s header off the goal-line.
Redknapp made his second switch of the afternoon soon after as Austin’s return to W12 lasted until 17 minutes from time. The striker was replaced by Zamora in attack.
The substitution came with Rangers defending a corner and, seconds later, Forest were level again. Ben Osborn’s centre found Matt Derbyshire unmarked to hammer his header past Green’s despairing dive into the roof of the net.
Injury forced Redknapp into his final change from the re-start. Hoilett hobbled off, allowing Niko Kranjcar to make his return from a hamstring problem for the final 15 minutes.
The equaliser only spurred Rangers on, though, with the woodwork denying the R’s the lead for a third time. Morrison’s exquisite lob was palmed into the path of Zamora, who could only strike the post from a tight angle.
Fellow substitute Kranjcar was next to try his luck, as only the slightest of deflections took his speculative long-range shot over.
Rangers would eventually make their pressure count, though, with three goals in a pulsating final six minutes.
Onuoha exchanged passes with Morrison inside the area before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner to seemingly fire the R’s to three points.
And that strike only paved the way for more. Morrison added his name to the scoresheet in the last minute, sliding Zamora’s pull-back home from 12 yards before the pair combined again to add a fifth in stoppage time.
Morrison released Zamora to set the seal on an emphatic 5-2 scoreline, beating Darlow with ease to complete a breath-taking climax at Loftus Road.