MILLWALL scored in second-half stoppage time to earn what could be a crucial point in their battle to avoid the drop.
However, more importantly for Rangers, the draw meant Harry Redknapp’s men ensured themselves a fourth-place finish in the Championship – that after Wigan Athletic’s home defeat to Blackpool – meaning home advantage in the second leg of the play-off semi-finals.
Charlie Austin’s 78th-minute penalty looked to have won it for QPR against their relegation-threatened visitors, after Simeon Jackson handled in the box from a Junior Hoilett cross.
But the Lions levelled in the dying embers. Scott Malone’s scuffed half-volley was spilled by Rob Green before finding the net.
Rangers chief Redknapp made two changes to his side following Monday’s win over Watford in W12.
Yossi Benayoun and Niko Kranjcar replaced Armand Traore (illness) and Kevin Doyle, the latter dropping to the bench.
The fixture saw QPR fan favourites Ian Holloway and Marc Bircham – Lions boss and his assistant respectively – return to Loftus Road.
It was the duo’s current team, Millwall, who could – and should – have taken a second-minute lead.
Crystal Palace loanee Owen Garvan found space down the left and when his cross was met by Stefan Maierhofer from all of six-yards out, he somehow headed wide.
Rangers were slow out of the blocks and the Lions wasted another opportunity in the 11th minute, Lee Martin this time skewing wide from a Carlos Edwards centre.
Martin was unfortunately stretchered off for Millwall with a serious-looking injury in the 16th minute, following a collision with Tom Carroll. Steve Morison took his place.
QPR’s first real chance of the contest arrived just short of the half-hour mark. Ravel Morrison’s flick eventually landed at the feet of Austin, whose 12-yard snap-shot was blocked for a corner.
The R’s grew into the fixture as the first half wore on and were denied in the 32nd minute by the reflexes of David Forde.
Joey Barton’s defence-splitting pass put Kranjcar in the clear and when his initial effort was palmed away by the Lions goalkeeper, Forde quickly rose to his feet to also save from Austin at point-blank range.
At the other end, Green saved comfortably from Morison four minutes later. The QPR custodian was also called into action to deny Maierhofer in the 44th minute.
Rangers and Millwall both missed excellent chances to lead just before half-time.
First, patient approach play from the hosts ended with Benayoun feeding Morrison, whose header forced a fine reaction stop from Forde.
Seconds later, Martyn Woolford broke away from Richard Dunne before shooting only inches past the post from 12 yards.
QPR enjoyed the first opportunity of the second period, four minutes after the break.
Barton, Morrison and Austin all combined before the ball bounced up for the former on the edge of the box, who volleyed wide.
Carroll and Morrison also soon went close with carbon-copy efforts from the edge of the area.
The home side made their first change of the afternoon in the 63rd minute – Hoilett replacing Benayoun.
Despite the early second-half opportunities for the R’s, chances were now few and far between with 20 minutes left to play.
Simpson teed up Austin in the 73rd minute but he could only head straight at Forde, while Hoilett’s effort was also too close to the visiting ‘keeper.
Rangers made their second substitution when Bobby Zamora came on for Kranjcar in the 74th minute.
The R’s took the lead from the penalty spot in the 77th minute. Hoilett’s cross from the right was handled by substitute Jackson, before referee Mr Friend duly pointed to the spot.
Austin stepped up to take the kick and dispatched in typically-cool fashion, sliding the ball into the bottom right-hand corner to give Rangers the advantage.
Shaun Williams almost equalised for the Lions in the 86th minute but saw a free-kick crash back off the crossbar.
However, parity was restored at the death – Malone Millwall’s saviour, shooting home via the hand of Green.