QPR’S seven-game unbeaten run at Loftus Road in the Premier League came to an end despite a spirited display against Manchester United on Saturday.
Harry Redknapp’s side were much-improved from defeat at Burnley seven days earlier but fell behind to substitute Marouane Fellaini’s 58th-minute strike.
David de Gea was United’s hero at the other end, twice foiling Charlie Austin as Rangers failed to find a breakthrough before James Wilson added a second for the visitors in stoppage time.
Redknapp made two changes from last weekend’s trip to Burnley. Nedum Onuoha replaced Steven Caulker in the centre of defence, whilst Bobby Zamora was restored to the starting XI as Adel Taarabt dropped to the bench. Meanwhile, Mauro Zarate was amongst the substitutes fresh from making his R’s debut off the bench at Turf Moor.
Rangers – looking to avenge the 4-0 defeat suffered at Old Trafford in September – made a strong start on a bitterly cold afternoon in W12.
A loose ball from Juan Mata early on was pounced on by Zamora, but his audacious lob from 40 yards didn’t trouble de Gea’s goal.
Meanwhile, Michael Carrick provided United’s first effort of note on 10 minutes. His low strike was comfortably gathered by Rob Green, though.
Rangers had Green to thank for keeping the scores level three minutes later, twice denying Falcao at point-blank range. The Columbian controlled Mata’s cross before firing a volley straight at Green, who reacted well again to block the striker’s follow-up effort at his near post.
At the other end a long throw from Clint Hill caused United problems. Zamora climbed highest to flick the ball on for Eduardo Vargas, whose deft lob lofted onto the roof of the net.
Zamora had a hand in creating another chance 60 seconds later. His flick-on this time freed Charlie Austin, whose first-timed volley from 20 yards was palmed away by De Gea.
Austin brought an even better save out of the United custodian on the half-hour mark. After latching onto Joey Barton’s pass, the R’s frontman rifled a looping volley destined for the net before De Gea’s fingertips diverted the ball over.
It proved the final talking point of a first-half shaded by the home side, weathering a spell of late pressure to deservedly go in level at the break.
Changes were made for both sides for the re-start. Caulker replaced Richard Dunne for the R’s, while Mata made way for Fellaini in the visitors’ midfield.
It was Rangers who created the first chance of the second period. Barton’s 51st-minute free-kick was met by Leroy Fer, but the R’s midfielder couldn’t steer his header on target.
United soon found their stride, but once again found Green in fantastic form as Falcao was thwarted once again. Angel Di Maria’s delicate cross found the striker free inside the six-yard area, only to see his header saved instinctively by the R’s number one.
Rangers would fall behind soon after, however. A pull-back from Antonio Valencia fell kindly to Fellaini 12 yards out, who had time to take a touch before thundering a shot beyond Green’s clutches into the roof of the net.
Rangers sought a quick response through Vargas, but his ambitious long-range drive was well held by De Gea while Fer flashed a half-volley over moments later.
Fer was withdrawn 20 minutes from time as Redknapp introduced Taarabt in search of an equaliser.
And Rangers were handed a glorious opportunity to do just that when a mix-up in the United rearguard allowed Vargas a free run on goal. But, with Austin and Zamora both in close attendance, he failed to find either to the frustration of the Chilean and co.
At the other end, Rangers were relieved to see Falcao twice come within inches of converting crosses at the back post.
Niko Kranjcar made his return from injury from the bench, taking Zamora’s place for the final 10 minutes.
Rangers poured forwards as the clock ticked on, forcing De Gea into action in the last minute of normal time. Mauricio Isla popped up inside the box, but couldn’t slide his shot past the Spaniard from a tight angle.
Instead, it was United who rubber-stamped victory at the death. Wilson broke clear, beating Green at the second time of asking to seal the R’s fate.