A TWELVE-MINUTE first-half purple patch put Rangers to the sword – and made it another derby day to forget.
After our 4-0 defeat at Fulham in September, this time goals from Ross McCormack (35 minutes), Moussa Dembele (40) and Tom Cairney (45+2) were enough to overcome Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men at Loftus Road.
Substitute Tjaronn Chery pulled one back for QPR in second-half stoppage time – but the damage was done long before that effort nestled into the back of the net.
Rangers made two changes for the visit of the Cottagers – after last weekend’s 1-0 home triumph over Ipswich Town – with injury to both Ale Faurlin (thigh) and Conor Washington (ankle) meaning the duo dropped out of the starting XI.
Washington was fit enough to make the substitutes’ bench, however, though Faurlin was forced to sit out altogether. So Jamie Mackie and Daniel Tozser were drafted into the team as a result.
Hasselbaink’s QPR fashioned their first attempt in just the second minute.
Rangers broke at pace and when Mackie sped away down the left before crossing into the box, Massimo Luongo rose to head the ball straight at Andy Lonergan from 10 yards.
Visitors Fulham produced an effort of their own only a minute later.
From the left-hand byline, Lasse Vigen Christensen tricked his way into the penalty area before shooting from an acute angle, though Alex Smithies produced a smart low stop to tip the ball away.
First-half opportunities dried up after that. In the 19th minute, Jamie O’Hara sent in a cross-come-shot from the left edge of the box, but Smithies was equal to it.
Though chances were largely scarce, the visitors did enjoy some good periods of possession.
Rangers were holding firm when the half-hour mark came and went – but Fulham would eventually find a way past Smithies and his QPR defence in the 35th minute.
Patient approach play from the visitors eventually saw Cairney feed McCormack with a defence-splitting pass, before the Scot fired Fulham in front with a clinical finish.
In behind the R’s back four, McCormack strode into the box and shot confidently past Smithies for his 16th league goal of the campaign.
A blow for Rangers – and things got worse just five minutes later when Slavisa Jokanovic’s side added a second.
O’Hara crossed from the left, before an unmarked Dembele stole in to head Fulham further in front from six yards.
The visitors were now buoyant – and their lead was all but unassailable once the Cottagers registered a third goal on the stroke of half-time.
First Dembele struck the foot of the right-hand post, before Cairney reacted to prod home from close range.
Hoops boss Hasselbaink reacted by making a half-time change. Washington was brought on for Seb Polter.
But Fulham continued to enjoy their fair share of possession in the opening minutes of the second half.
Another QPR substitution duly followed in the 53rd minute. Nasser El Khayati replaced Junior Hoilett.
The visitors almost got a fourth goal in the 61st minute. The ball pinballed around the Rangers box and when it eventually broke to Luke Garbutt, he drove just inches wide of the target.
Three minutes later, Cairney also fired low at Smithies from the edge of the area.
A moment of contention arrived shortly after. Fulham surrendered possession in their own half to put Mackie through on goal, but Dan Burn produced an unfair challenge to haul down the R’s attacker.
Video replays showed that Burn was Fulham’s last man. However, much to the dissatisfaction of the Loftus Road crowd, he was only shown a yellow card by the referee.
Both goalkeepers produced good stops after that. First, Lonergan reacted excellently to save from a James Perch header, following Matt Phillips’ corner, before Smithies tipped McCormack’s fierce cross-come-shot over the bar.
The R’s used their third and final sub in the 76th minute, with Chery brought on for Phillips.
Ten minutes from time, Lonergan caught the ball at the second attempt following El Khayati’s thumping effort from distance. Chery then shot wide from similar range.
In second-half injury time, the Dutchman also forced Lonergan into a smart stop, before that same man pulled a goal back for Rangers from the resultant corner.
Tozser’s set-piece from the right fell kindly for Chery 12-yards out, and he fired low past a forest of bodies to reduce the deficit.
However, it was little more than a consolation strike on an otherwise-disappointing day for the R’s.