RANGERS needed penalties to overcome League One Swindon Town in the first round of the EFL Cup – but got the job done eventually by winning 4-2 on spot-kicks (2-2 AET).
Swindon – who gave a good account of themselves throughout – were the better side in the first half, but fell behind to debutant Yeni Ngbakoto’s 58th-minute opener.
The Robins forced 30 additional minutes when Jordan Stewart scored his first-ever senior goal in the 72nd minute, hammering home in cool fashion when a fortunate deflection put him in the clear.
Town’s luck wasn’t as good at the start of extra-time. With Lloyd Jones injured – and no more substitutes left to use – QPR seized on the opportunity when Conor Washington applied a 93rd-minute finish.
But Swindon refused to lie down, forcing penalties when James Brophy registered another equaliser, in the 107th minute.
Spot-kicks subsequently took place at the School End – where goalkeeper Matt Ingram became Rangers’ hero on the night.
He saved twice, from Anton Rodgers and Bradley Barry, before Nasser El Khayati stepped up to convert the decisive penalty - and send the R's into round two.
Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made eight changes to his side following Sunday’s emphatic 3-0 win over Leeds United on the opening weekend of the new Sky Bet Championship season.
Only skipper Nedum Onuoha, Karl Henry and Olamide Shodipo kept their places, as Ngbakoto was handed his QPR debut following a recent move from French club Metz.
The R’s lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Ingram was in goal, behind a back four of Darnell Furlong, Onuoha, Joel Lynch and James Perch.
Henry and Jordan Cousins took on the deeper-lying midfield roles, with Ngbakoto, El Khayati and Shodipo deployed behind striker Washington in attack.
Visitors Swindon – who beat Coventry City 1-0 in the league on Saturday – named centre-back and QPR academy product Jamie Sendles-White in their starting line-up.
The Robins made a confident start. Albeit tamely, Rodgers shot straight at Ingram very early on, before Yaser Kasim’s rasping seventh-minute drive flew past the left-hand post.
Rangers responded by striking the crossbar four minutes later, as Furlong got on the end of Ngbakoto’s right-flank corner kick.
But Swindon continued to press for an opening goal. Luke Norris forced two separate smart saves from goalkeeper Ingram in minutes 14 and 18.
A lovely QPR move in the 20th minute saw the deadlock almost broken. Henry’s fine long pass freed Ngbakoto in the box, but his pull-back was hacked clear.
Rangers’ Furlong went close once more in the 24th minute, meeting another Ngbakoto corner before visiting custodian Lawrence Vigouroux, and not the crossbar, this time came to the rescue to block clear.
in the 28th minute, Ingram again denied Swindon’s Norris, following the latter’s thumping, low drive from 20 yards.
Admittedly, Swindon were the better team in the first half. In the 34th minute, the ball pinballed around QPR’s box before Conor Thomas’ effort was diverted behind for a corner.
Shortly after, Rangers’ Ngbakoto fizzed an effort past the upright from distance.
However, it was visitors Town who again threatened on the stroke of half-time, as Norris raced through on goal before rounding Ingram.
Fortunately for the hosts, Perch was on hand to clear off the goal-line when the Swindon forward eventually sent in an effort.
Both teams produced attempts in the opening five minutes of the second period.
First, Swindon’s Brophy skewed wide after linking with Rodgers, before Rangers’ Cousins also blasted past the target, following an angled shot from range.
With QPR still struggling to take hold of the game, Hasselbaink opted for a first change in the 58th minute. Tjaronn Chery replaced Shodipo.
And the R’s took the lead in the very-same minute.
El Khayati displayed excellent individual skill to beat his marker down the left, before his subsequent low centre was flicked on by Washington for Ngbakoto to slide home at the back post.
Things mellowed somewhat after that, as Rangers looked to take the sting out of the cup tie.
Debutant Ngbakoto was replaced in the 71st minute, making way for Cole Kpekawa.
But Swindon levelled matters with 18 minutes left on the clock.
A wicked ricochet, as QPR attempted to clear the ball, put Town’s Stewart in the clear – who took full advantage to crash an effort past Ingram from the edge of the penalty area.
With extra time now looming, and an injury forcing Lynch off 12 minutes from time, Hasselbaink threw on another striker in the shape of Seb Polter.
In the 85th minute, Ingram and Norris’ personal battle continued. The Swindon attacker’s drive from a 25-yard free-kick routine forced a good, low stop from the Rangers ‘keeper.
Four minutes were added on at the end but, with no further goals, the game headed into extra-time.
Rangers were handed a boost at the start of extra-time.
Swindon, with no substitutes left, went down to 10 men when Jones was forced off with an injury.
The R’s wasted little time in making that advantage count, scoring in the 93rd minute thanks to a well-worked move.
Polter broke free down the right before crossing low for Chery. With his back to goal, the Dutchman swivelled and unselfishly played in Washington, who fired home at close range.
Rangers almost extended their lead in the 97th minute, as Perch saw his header tipped away by Vigouroux following a home corner. The visiting custodian also saved low from El Khayati moments later.
Remarkably, 10-man Swindon levelled matters in the 107th minute.
Stewart’s shot was parried clear by Ingram, but Brophy followed up to sweep home into the right-hand corner.
QPR pushed for another goal thereafter, with Polter going close on four different occasions. Cousins also shot just inches wide of the left-hand post late on in extra-time.
But penalties were required to settle this first-round tie.
Pen 1: Swindon, Rodgers, MISSED
Pen 2: QPR, Chery, GOAL
Pen 3: Swindon, Thomas, GOAL
Pen 4: QPR, Polter, GOAL
Pen 5: Swindon, Stewart, GOAL
Pen 6: QPR, Washington, GOAL
Pen 7: Swindon, Barry, MISSED
Pen 8: QPR, El Khayati, GOAL