QPR v Rochdale
SANDRO was at the double, as QPR came from behind to book their place in the third round of the EFL Cup.
The Brazilian’s two goals, on what was his first appearance of the season, saw the R’s ultimately run out 2-1 victors over League One Rochdale at Loftus Road.
Matty Lund originally gave the visitors a fifth-minute lead, heading home from a corner.
But Rangers weren’t to be denied and, thanks to Sandro, responded in kind to advance into round three.
The midfielder struck from a Tjaronn Chery corner four minutes before half-time.
And it was the same pair who combined to serve up the winner, again from a corner, as Sandro headed in at the Loft End on 74 minutes.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made eight changes to his QPR side following Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat against Preston in the Championship.
Only skipper Nedum Onuoha, Jake Bidwell and James Perch kept their places.
Hasselbaink handed a competitive R’s debut to summer signing Ariel Borysiuk, while 18-year-old academy product Osman Kakay made his first senior start for Rangers.
Sandro was also named in the starting XI for the first time in 2016/17.
Matt Ingram began in goal, behind a back four of Perch, Onuoha, Grant Hall and Bidwell.
In the usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Sandro and Borysiuk took on the defensive midfield roles, with Kakay, Nasser El Khayati and Olamide Shodipo supporting lone forward Conor Washington.
It was actually a long ball up to Washington that sparked a moment of contention in the fifth minute.
Onuoha clipped forward from deep, and when the striker raced in behind the visiting defence, goalkeeper Conrad Logan appeared to handle the ball as he raced out of his area to avert the danger.
However, the referee waved away Rangers’ appeals.
Rochdale took the lead from a corner only a minute later.
It was Lund who put Keith Hill’s team in front, heading home in the box when Donal McDermott crossed from the left.
Moments later, it was almost 2-0 to the visitors. Andy Cannon dragged just wide of the left-hand post from 20 yards, accepting the invitation to shoot when Rangers’ defence backed off.
QPR almost responded in route-one fashion in the 16th minute.
Ingram’s kick up field put Washington in the clear, before his subsequent 12-yard effort forced an excellent, low save from Logan.
Two minutes later, El Khayati curled a free-kick just over.
Rangers had penalty claims turned down in the 31st minute, as Washington appeared to be bundled to ground in the box. But an award was not forthcoming.
The R’s were forced into a first change five minutes before half-time. El Khayati – who was unable to continue with what appeared to be a back injury – was replaced by Chery.
The Dutchman’s impact was almost instant, as he created QPR’s equaliser that arrived only a minute later.
Chery’s centre from a right-flank corner fell to Sandro, who swept home low past Logan from 10 yards to send Rangers in level at the break.
Clear-cut opportunities were limited at the start of the second half.
QPR were able to breathe a sigh of relief in the 47th minute, after clearing from a huge goalmouth scramble in their box.
At the other end, meanwhile, in the 53rd minute, Hall flicked a header wide following Chery’s free-kick from deep.
Hasselbaink made a second Rangers substitution just after the hour mark, with Borysiuk making way for Massimo Luongo.
The home side began to gain control after that, while enjoying the better of the possession.
The R’s threw on forward Sebastian Polter with 17 minutes left on the clock, for Kakay, in an attempt to get the tie won in normal time.
And QPR duly struck the decisive goal in the 74th minute.
It was the third consecutive goal of the night from a corner-kick routine, as Sandro grabbed his second of the evening.
Chery again played the role of architect, with his inswinging centre powered home by the head of the Brazilian.
Rochdale huffed and puffed for a leveller after that, while Shodipo and Polter both missed golden chances to extend Rangers’ lead late on.
However, nevertheless, it’s into round three the R’s go, with the draw to take place after the remaining second-round ties on Wednesday evening.