QPR’S search for away points continues after they suffered a 2-0 defeat at Swansea City on Tuesday night.
The hosts enjoyed much of the possession but looked set to be frustrated by a committed R’s defence, with keeper Rob Green producing one of his best displays for the club with a series of incredible saves.
But just as time appeared to be running out for Garry Monk’s side, Ki Sung-Yeung slammed home from a tight angle on 78 minutes, crashing the ball in off the far post.
And five minutes later, Swansea doubled their lead through Wayne Routledge, with the former QPR man finding the back of the net from the edge of the penalty box.
Swansea went into the game on the back of Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace. Sitting eighth in the table, it is largely the Swans’ form at the Liberty Stadium which is responsible for their lofty league position.
From seven home games prior to this evening, Garry Monk’s men picked up 14 points, suffering just one defeat at the hands of high-flying Southampton.
Burnley, West Brom, Leicester and Arsenal have all left south west Wales pointless this season, highlighting the difficulty in getting the better of Swansea on their own patch.
Harry Redknapp made one change from the side that beat Leicester City 3-2 at the weekend, bringing in Richard Dunne for Mauricio Isla.
It meant Green continued between the sticks, with Yun Suk Young on the left of defence and Nedum Onuoha moving to right-back, with Steven Caulker partnering Dunne in the centre.
Karl Henry and Joey Barton continued their partnership in the middle of the park, with Eduardo Vargas operating on the right of midfield and Leroy Fer on the left.
Niko Kranjcar was deployed in a more attacking role, operating just off Charlie Austin.
And it was the creative Croatian who had the first opportunity of the game after two minutes. Pressing high up the pitch, Austin won possession, allowing Henry to win a free-kick on the edge of the box, and Kranjcar’s resultant set-piece zipped just wide.
Straight up the other end of the pitch, Wayne Routledge should have given the hosts the lead when he was put clear of the visiting defence thanks to a perfectly-weighted ball from Wilfried Bony, but the former QPR man saw his effort well saved by the outrushing Green.
On a bitterly cold night in south Wales, the frantic opening warmed up the vociferous supporters of both teams.
On eight minutes, Green was again at his best to keep the game goalless, as Kyle Bartley’s header from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner needed a strong hand to tip the ball around the post.
In the opening 15 minutes, the hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, with Onuoha’s battle on the right side with Swansea’s Jefferson Montero making for an intriguing battle.
Ki Sung-Yeung saw his speculative drive from 30 yards sail well wide of the Rangers goal after 25 minutes, as the visitors continued to soak up the hosts’ pressure.
But Swansea didn’t have it all their own way. QPR nearly found a way through when Barton delivered a great free-kick into the Swansea area, but neither Caulker nor Fer could get the decisive touch from close range.
Sigurdsson came very close to breaking the deadlock on 33 minutes. Montero pushed forward down the left flank before feeding the overlapping Neil Taylor. The Swans left back squared for Sigurdsson, whose shot from 18 yards deflected off Barton and bobbled inches wide of the upright, with Green scrambling across his goal.
And four minutes later, Sigurdsson went even closer with a free kick from 20 yards, which Green did incredibly well to save, diving to his left to spectacularly deny the Icelandic international. Goal-line technology showed just how close it was – and just how good a save it was.
Five minutes before half-time, Swans stopper Lukasz Fabianski was called into action for the first time of the night. Barton clipped the ball into the path of Kranjcar, who pulled the ball back from the right-hand byline for Fer to head goalwards from six yards, but the host keeper saved well.
Right on half-time, it was Vargas’s turn to go close. After creating space for himself from 25 yards, the Chilean advanced before zipping his shot a foot wide of Fabianski’s right-hand post.
After the break, Bony was released by Routledge, but a combination of Suk-Young and Dunne prevented the in-form Swansea forward from giving the hosts the lead.
Redknapp changed QPR’s approach, with Vargas taking a more advanced role in attack, Kranjcar moving to left midfield and Fer switching to the right flank.
Shortly after the hour mark, Montero centred from the left, which Green got a hand to before Suk-Young hacked clear as Rangers were forced to ride a storm with the hosts pressing for the breakthrough.
And on 67 minutes it should have arrived for Swansea. Routledge got away down the right before squaring for Bony. One on one with the keeper, Bony’s first time shot was brilliantly saved by Green.
A minute later, Green went even better to deny Bony again, this time the Swans’ striker’s incredible volley was clawed away with an unbelievable stop.
At the other end, Austin fired over from 25 yards.
Fer nearly opened the scoring on 70 minutes, but his close range shot was deflected wide after a goalmouth scramble following a Kranjcar corner.
Two minutes later, Green’s personal duel with Bony continued, with the QPR stopper rushing out of his goal to smother at the forward’s feet.
But on 78 minutes Swansea got the breakthrough. Substitute Nathan Dyer advanced down the left before finding Sung-Yueng who fired in off the far post from the tightest of angles.
There was nothing Green could do about it, and after incredible resistance from the QPR defence and the keeper in particular, the Swans finally took the lead.
Junior Hoilett was brought into the action to try to add another attacking dimension, replacing Barton, but it was Swansea who netted the second goal of the game on 83 minutes.
Dyer saw his initial centre blocked by Caulker, but the pacey wideman was the first onto the rebound and he squared for Routledge who fired into the corner of the net from 18 yards.
Substitute Jonjo Shelvey went close late on, while Bony hit the post as Swansea secured what, in truth, was a fully deserved three points.