TEN-MAN Rangers went down to a slender, 1-0 defeat at runaway Championship leaders Leicester City, with David Nugent’s 68th-minute strike the difference at King Power Stadium.
QPR far from disgraced themselves against the already-promoted Foxes but were edged out after Nugent drilled home following a well-worked move.
The visitors had Benoit Assou-Ekotto dismissed in the 78th minute for a second-bookable offence and failed to recover thereafter.
As confirmed in his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to face the league leaders, Harry Redknapp made a number of changes to his side – six, in fact, with the play-offs now looming for QPR.
Yun Suk-Young, Aaron Hughes, Niko Kranjcar, Karl Henry, Gary O’Neil and Modibo Maiga all came into the starting XI.
Ravel Morrison and Richard Dunne dropped to the bench, while Charlie Austin, Tom Carroll, Jermaine Jenas and Junior Hoilett missed out altogether.
Hosts Leicester had the better of the possession inside the opening stanza.
Riyad Mahrez saw a shot deflected away for a corner in the third minute, while Anthony Knockaert twice skewed wide inside the first 15 minutes – his first effort after lovely control from Nugent.
Rangers’ first attempt on goal arrived on the quarter-hour mark when Kranjcar’s blast was blocked for a corner. Maiga, meanwhile, went even closer for the R’s when his low shot was also deflected wide.
QPR had improved and Kasper Schmeichel was called into action for the first time in the 22nd minute to palm over a Kranjcar drive, following his neat one-two with Maiga.
A goalmouth scramble ensued in the 33rd minute. Kranjcar’s effort was saved at point-blank range by Schmeichel and when the ball subsequently ping-ponged around the box, the home side eventually managed to clear.
Three minutes later, Rob Green was tested for the first time when saving from Andy King after intricate approach play from the Foxes.
Leicester should have led come the 40th minute. A Henry mistake put King in the clear and when he rounded Green, last-ditch heroics from Nedum Onuoha on the goal-line denied the City midfielder. Mahrez then saw his shot deflected wide from the loose ball.
Rangers also missed a golden chance to score on the stroke of half-time after breaking on the counter attack, with Maiga shooting wide following Kranjcar’s pull-back.
The Hoops made one change at the half-time break, with Shaun Wright-Phillips brought on in place of Yossi Benayoun.
It was Maiga who enjoyed another opportunity five minutes into the second half following a stray pass, shooting just past the post from 25 yards.
The contest entered a lull period as the hour mark approached, with chances now few and far between for both sides.
However, Maiga should have done better when freed by Kranjcar in the 61st minute, curling wide when in space 12 yards from goal.
Four minutes later, a double effort – from Kranjcar and Assou-Ekotto respectively – was diverted away for a corner kick.
Despite those chances, the Foxes forged ahead in the 68th minute.
A free-flowing move put Nugent through on goal and he made no mistake thereon in, drilling low into the bottom corner from 10 yards.
Rangers responded by introducing Bobby Zamora in the 72nd minute to replace Maiga.
The R’s went close with a free-kick soon after, Kranjcar’s free-kick deflected for a corner.
QPR weren’t helped when reduced to 10 men with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Assou-Ekotto was penalised for a foul on King and was promptly shown his marching orders soon after when sent off following a second yellow card.
Morrison was brought on for Kranjcar seven minutes from time, though the R’s were unable to find a way back into the game.