RANGERS’ survival hopes suffered a cruel dent when a late, late Cesc Fabregas goal saw Chelsea inflict a 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road.
The result was harsh on QPR, who battled stoutly throughout. However, it was the Premier League leaders who won it with just two minutes remaining.
Eden Hazard capitalised when the R’s surrendered possession and when he eventually crossed for Fabregas, the midfielder poked home from six yards to break Rangers hearts.
Chris Ramsey made one change to his QPR side following our 3-3 midweek draw at Aston Villa.
Karl Henry – who came on during Tuesday’s thriller at Villa Park – was drafted in, with Niko Kranjcar making way.
There was quite an atmosphere as the teams emerged for kick-off. R’s fans were in fine voice.
As is common in a derby fixture, the contest experienced a scrappy start.
Opportunities were non-existent as both sides battled for supremacy. But QPR will have been pleased with their opening against the league leaders.
In the 20th minute, Rangers almost created an opening when Matt Phillips crossed from the right, but Gary Cahill did well to deny a waiting Steven Caulker.
Another rare first-half chance arrived on 30 minutes. Chelsea seemed content to pick their moments and when Didier Drogba broke and crossed for Ramires, his acrobatic effort darted just past the upright.
Austin got Hoops fans on their feet in the 44th minute, with his shot from range beaten away by visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Fabregas looped a header over for Chelsea just before half-time, following Branislav Ivanovic’s right-wing cross.
The second period began in similar vein to how the first was played out, with chances at a premium.
QPR’s Phillips executed a dangerous cross from the right four minutes after the interval. However, that centre just evaded Bobby Zamora in the middle.
Four minutes later, home captain Joey Barton skewed wide when Rangers broke.
For Chelsea, their opening chance of the half arrived when the ball fell to Drogba on 20 yards, but he got his effort all wrong.
The Blues signalled their intentions to attack a little more when Ramires made way for Brazilian Oscar in the 56th minute.
Soon after, a ball into the box saw Ivanovic attempt a headed effort for the visitors, but he couldn’t get enough conviction on it.
The first real chance of the contest arrived in the 64th minute. It came for Rangers – and ultimately saw Courtois fashion a simply stunning save.
Zamora crossed from the right and when Phillips turned his marker, the winger’s subsequent low shot was wonderfully tipped away by Courtois.
Sandro blasted high and wide for the Hoops two minutes later.
The contest now had more of a pace about it. Chelsea were probably enjoying more possession than they did in the first half, though Rangers continued to hold their own.
With 15 minutes left to play, the match was finely balanced.
Rangers made a change five minutes later, with Kranjcar replacing the tireless Sandro.
In the 82nd minute, the ball fell to Austin when a scramble ensued following a corner. The striker shot, but Courtois held on.
Junior Hoilett then replaced Zamora a minute later.
For all their hard work, Rangers would suffer the ultimate body blow in the 88th minute.
A sliced Rob Green clearance was collected by Hazard and when he combined well with Oscar down the left to cross for Fabregas, the Spaniard hammered home from close range.
That proved to be the telling moment, with the R’s unable to respond inside the three minutes of stoppage time added on.