READING came from behind to knock QPR out of the Capital One Cup at Loftus Road.
Rangers twice led this third round tie courtesy of outstanding individual efforts from Junior Hoilett and Djibril Cisse but were unable to progress through to round four after a late show from the Royals.
Former R’s defender Kaspars Gorkss originally levelled for the visitors and when Nicky Shorey did for a second time with a fine 77th-minute free-kick, Pavel Pogrebnyak booked Reading’s place in the next round with a nonchalant back-heel four minutes later.
Pogrebnyak even had a chance to add his second – and a Royals fourth – from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time but couldn’t find a way past Julio Cesar in the Rangers goal.
Stephane Mbia was handed his Rangers debut for the visit of Brian McDermott’s Reading.
The Cameroonian international, who signed from Marseille on deadline day of the summer transfer window but has since been unable to feature due to injury, lined up in central defence alongside Clint Hill.
Hughes made four changes to his team after Sunday’s slender defeat at Tottenham Hotspur but named a strong side nevertheless, with Cisse, Kieron Dyer – who impressed after coming on as an early substitute at Spurs – and Jamie Mackie also handed starts.
The contest enjoyed a scrappy start before the R’s carved open the first opportunity on six minutes.
Lovely passing play from the home side ended with Ale Faurlin sliding a pass into Dyer on the right-hand edge of the box, whose cross-come-shot somehow flashed across the target without a touch.
That early chance brought Rangers to life – and after short period of increased possession, Hughes’ men took a 14th-minute lead.
It was a moment of individual brilliance, as Hoilett danced his way past three challenges before slotting home from ten yards.
QPR had barely finished celebrating when Reading put themselves on terms just two minutes later.
The visitors won a free-kick out wide on the left and, when Shorey sent over a teasing centre, Gorkss rose highest to head home against his former club.
Despite that setback, Rangers continued to push forward.
Cisse perhaps should have done better with an effort just three minutes after Reading drew level – only managing to direct Esteban Granero’s pinpoint free-kick straight at Alex McCarthy.
Moments later, Mackie blasted a low centre agonisingly across the six-yard box without a touch.
Rangers were far from having things all their own way but did create the better chances in the opening period.
Cisse was again involved just past the half-hour mark, running almost the length of the pitch when the hosts broke on the counter attack before dragging a shot wide of the post.
There were chances aplenty after the half-time interval.
Cisse saw a long-range effort sail wide just three minutes after the break, soon before Pogrebnyak’s shot from a Hal Robson-Kanu cross saw Hill produce a brave block.
Although both teams enjoyed those early chances, Rangers grew stronger as the second half progressed.
McCarthy was earning his crust in the Reading goal, saving from Mackie before Hoilett had claims for a penalty waived away. Faurlin also fired straight at the goalkeeper in the same move.
Five minutes later, McCarthy was again called into action, saving from Ji-Sung Park after the latter linked superbly well with Granero.
The home side were now in the ascendancy and deservedly regained the lead in spectacular style in the 71st minute.
Dogged hustling from Granero saw the Spanish midfielder block a Gorkss clearance, before Cisse picked up the loose ball and blasted an unstoppable 25-yard effort into the top right-hand corner.
The charismatic Frenchman certainly enjoyed that one, ripping his shirt off before wheeling away to celebrate.
Similarly to when QPR scored the opening goal of the tie, Reading wasted no time in equalising – this time just six minutes.
Faurlin felled Jem Karacan on 25 yards and when Shorey stepped up to take the resultant free-kick, he curled a magnificent effort home off the underside of the bar.
Pogrebnyak struck a Reading winner nine minutes from time.
A cross from the left was turned on by Robson-Kanu into the path of the big striker, whose deft back-heel trickled past the despairing hand of Cesar.
The visitors could have even added to the scoreline when they were awarded a stoppage-time penalty, after Mbia was adjudged to have unfairly challenged Pogrebnyak in the box.
The Russian striker couldn’t capitalise, however, seeing his spot-kick excellently saved by Cesar.
QPR: Cesar, Hill, Park (Zamora 67), Cisse, Mackie, Granero, Onuoha, Dyer (Nelsen 65), Hoilett, Faurlin (Diakite 88), Mbia.
Subs: Green, Derry, Wright, Ehmer.
Goals: Hoilett (14), Cisse (71)
Booked: Mbia (27), Cisse (72)
Reading: McCarthy, Shorey, Karacan, Mariappa (Morrison 79), Pogrebnyak, Hunt, Kebe (McCleary 69), Tabb, Gorkss, Robson-Kanu, Cummings.
Subs: Taylor, Gunter, le Fondre, McAnuff, Church.
Goals: Gorkss (16), Shorey (77), Pogrebnyak (81)
Booked: Kebe (61), Hunt (85), Robson-Kanu (90)
Referee: Mr R East
Attendance: 11,562 (1495 away)