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17:00 27th February 2016


FIRST-HALF strikes from Tjaronn Chery and Junior Hoilett saw QPR record a deserved 2-0 victory over Sky Bet Championship play-off chasers Birmingham City at Loftus Road.

Arguably one of Rangers’ most-complete performances of the campaign to date, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s charges took the lead in the 35th minute, with Chery producing an excellent finish from 10 yards.

Hoilett then put the Hoops into an insurmountable lead four minutes later from the penalty spot.

Blues skipper Michael Morrison tripped Sebastian Polter in the box, before Canadian international Hoilett converted the spot-kick in confident fashion.

R’s boss Hasselbaink made three changes to his side for this fixture, following Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

Chery, Hoilett and Polter were all drafted into the team, at the expense of Nasser El Khayati, Daniel Tozser and Conor Washington. 

Rangers started on the front foot, albeit with the opening stanza disrupted due to an injury to Birmingham’s Maikel Kieftenbeld, who required lengthy treatment but eventually continued.

Though no clear-cut chances arrived in the first 20 minutes, QPR enjoyed the lion’s share of possession during that period, with the visitors breaking sporadically.

However, Birmingham did almost open the scoring after a counter attack in the 23rd minute.

Gary Rowett’s men piled forward with real pace and when the ball was eventually worked to David Cotterill 25 yards from goal, the Blues midfielder crashed a shot only inches wide of the upright.

At the other end, Chery also went close with a long-range effort of his own in the 29th minute. The Dutchman’s 30-yarder was deflected just past the post.

But Rangers did eventually take a deserved lead 10 minutes before the half-time break.

Good work down the left from James Perch saw him beat Ryan Shotton to the ball. The full-back subsequently picked out Chery in the box, who produced a lovely finish thereafter - spinning and shooting into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

The Loftus Road faithful were on their feet, and the home crowd had a second goal to cheer only four minutes later, as Rangers doubled their tally from the penalty spot.

After Polter was slipped through on goal, the German advanced into the area before being unfairly hauled to the ground by visiting captain Morrison.

Morrison was booked for that particular challenge, and when Hoilett stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick, he slid home from 12 yards.

Two goals down, Birmingham began the second half with added purpose, going close on two separate occasions.

QPR’s Karl Henry was forced into a goal-line clearance to keep the visitors out in the 47th minute, that following a scramble in the box, before Hoops goalkeeper Alex Smithies produced a fine low save from a Cotterill free-kick effort four minutes later.

Rangers also had opportunities of their own shortly after the interval. 

One particular effort, following a free-flowing move in the 52nd minute, saw Birmingham’s Thomas Kuszczak fashion a flying stop to deny Massimo Luongo from 20 yards. From the resultant corner, the visiting custodian also saved from Gabriele Angella’s header.

More good football from the R’s led to the home side working another opportunity in the 58th minute. Luongo’s lovely pass was controlled well by Chery in the box, whose shot was blocked away for a corner.

As the 70-minute mark came and went, by now Birmingham had made attacking substitutions – bringing on playmaker Jon Toral and forward James Vaughan – in a bid to get themselves back in the contest.

The visitors went close to pulling a goal back in the 72nd minute. Cotterill flashed a shot across goal and wide.

Hasselbaink opted for his first change of the afternoon three minutes later. Tozser was brought on for the impressive Chery.

Soon after, Henry clawed back possession before shooting just wide from distance.

A second R’s substitution followed in the 82nd minute, as Washington replaced Matt Phillips.

Rangers were comfortable during the closing stages of this encounter.

El Khayati was also introduced late on, coming on for Hoilett, and the match ended with QPR the recipients of three well-earned points.

Two-nil to the Super Hoops.
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