QPR came from behind to claim three crucial points from a five-goal thriller with fellow newly-promoted Leicester City at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Esteban Cambiasso’s opener fired City into an early lead, but Wes Morgan’s own goal and Leroy Fer’s first for the club handed Rangers the half-time advantage.
Jeremy Schlupp’s second-half leveller restored parity but Charlie Austin popped up with the R’s match-winner once again – bagging his seventh of the campaign to clinch a victory which takes Harry Redknapp’s men off bottom spot and above the Foxes in the process.
Redknapp made three changes from last weekend’s trip to Newcastle United. Richard Dunne served a one-match suspension while injury ruled out Sandro and Bobby Zamora. In their place, the R’s boss recalled Mauricio Isla and Niko Kranjcar alongside Eduardo Vargas, who returned to the fold following the birth of his baby girl.
Vargas posed the early threat, seeing a couple of efforts blocked inside the opening two minutes but it was the visitors who made an instant breakthrough. After Leonardo Ulloa’s surge into the box was blocked off, Cambiasso dispatched the loose ball beyond Rob Green’s dive and inside his right-hand post.
The early setback did little to halt Rangers, though, who looked for an immediate response. A free-kick from Kranjcar deflected over Kasper Schmeichel’s upright, before Yun Suk-Young hoisted an ambitious long-range attempt high and wide.
Instead, it was Leicester who spurned a chance to double their tally on the quarter-hour mark. Jamie Vardy escaped the attentions of Nedum Onuoha to find Riyad Mahrez inside the area, only for the midfielder to side-foot wide from six yards.
At the other end, Karl Henry was almost the unlikely provider of an equaliser. The midfielder miraculously jinked his way inside the box but was eventually snuffed out by the City defence.
It proved a sign of things to come, as Rangers continued to pin City back in search of a leveller without creating a clear sight of goal.
The R’s pressure finally paid off eight minutes before the break. Steven Caulker latched onto Kranjcar’s pass, before his teasing ball across the six-yard area was diverted by Morgan into his own net with Vargas waiting to pounce at the back post.
Having restored parity, Rangers were relieved not to find themselves behind again from the re-start. Mahrez’s through ball set Vardy clear but his venomous strike was expertly blocked by Green, much to the relief of the R’s faithful.
Green would be rewarded moments later, as Rangers completed the comeback in first-half stoppage time. Austin’s header from Joey Barton’s cross was palmed into the path of Fer, who made no mistake with the rebound – thundering the ball into ground and into the roof of the net.
Leicester began the second half brightest – twice coming close to an equaliser inside the opening five minutes. Mahrez saw a crisp shot beaten away by Green, before the midfielder’s cross was glanced onto the crossbar by Vardy’s deft header.
Armand Traore replaced Yun before Rangers responded with a couple of efforts of their own. Austin’s first-timed shot from 18 yards deflected into the side netting, whilst Onuoha headed the resulting corner over.
Austin came even closer on 58 minutes, combining with Kranjcar to almost devastating effect. The pair exchanged flicks before Austin’s dipping 25-yard volley was clawed around the post by Schmeichel’s fingertips.
A quickly-taken free-kick at the other end almost brought City level. Cambiasso’s deft pass released Vardy but the striker skewed wide with the R’s defence caught napping.
Rangers didn’t heed the warning, though – fatally failing to clear their lines 67 minutes in. The ball eventually broke to Schlupp 20 yards out, who buried his volley into the opposite corner.
Another corner caused havoc just minutes later. After Green failed to collect, he had his defence to thank for blocking Cambiasso’s goal-bound header while Morgan could only divert the rebound over.
The action soon swung up the other end, where Fer was denied his second after towering highest from Kranjcar’s corner. The midfielder’s header, however, was kept out by Schmeichel’s acrobatic save.
A third R’s goal was forthcoming, though. This time Leicester couldn’t repel the danger, blocking Onuoha on the goal-line only for Austin to head home the rebound from close range as Rangers restored the lead 17 minutes from time.
Redknapp shuffled his pack from the re-start, introducing Jordon Mutch at the expense of Vargas as the home side prepared for the inevitable late onslaught to come their way.
Chances were few and far between, though, while Junior Hoilett replaced Kranjcar at the beginning of six minutes added time. Matty James came closest to a last-gasp leveller, but he fired over as Rangers celebrated a hard-earned victory come the final whistle.