Leeds United v QPR - Sky Bet Championship - Sunday, 6th May 2018 - Elland Road
QPR ended the season with defeat against Leeds United, losing 2-0 at Elland Road.
Goals in each half did the damage and ensured all three points for the hosts.
Leeds took the lead through Kemar Roofe on 30 minutes with a close-range overhead kick, and sealed the victory two minutes after the restart when Kemar Phillips picked out the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Ian Holloway made three changes from the side that beat Birmingham City 3-1 at Loftus Road last weekend, with Pawel Wszolek, Jordan Cousins and Matt Smith coming in at the expense of Osman Kakay, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Idrissa Sylla.
Joe Lumley continued between the posts behind a back from, from left to right, of Ryan Manning, Jake Bidwell, Darnell Furlong and Wszolek.
Cousins partnered Josh Scowen in front of the back four, while Ebere Eze, Luke Freeman and Ilias Chair played in more advanced roles behind Matt Smith who led the line against his former club.
After an opening 15 minutes of few opportunities at either end, QPR began to threaten. A typically skilful run from Eze down the left forced a throw, which Furlong took. The ball was cleared to the edge of the area where Scowen was waiting, and the man with the captain’s armband hit a half-volley which few narrowly over.
Moments later, Smith saw his looped header from 12 yards clear Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s crossbar.
At the other end of the pitch, Bidwell had to be alert to thwart the threat of Caleb Ekuban at the near post, while from the resulting corner, it was Bidwell again to the rescue as the defender blocked a goalbound shot following a scramble in the six-yard box.
Furlong was the next to earn his corn for the R’s, blocking Ekuban’s effort after the Leeds front man found space on the left.
But on the half-hour mark the hosts took the lead with an acrobatic goal from Kemar Roofe, diverting beyond Lumley from close range after Kalvin Phillips had initially headed a Leeds corner goalwards.
Chances were now becoming more frequent at both ends of the pitch, and less than 60 seconds after the opener QPR had a chance to level, but Freeman’s header following a great cross from Chair was too high to trouble Peacock-Farrell.
In the closing stages of the first half, Tom Pearce warmed the palms of Lumley with a fierce drive from distance while Ezgjan Alioski headed narrowly wide moments later as the hosts looked to double their lead.
Furlong headed Freeman’s freekick wide on the stroke of the interval although the break came at a good time for Rangers with Leeds looking the more threatening side.
Holloway made one tactical change at the break, switching Cousins to right back and moving Wszolek into a more advanced position on the left.
But it only took the hosts two minutes to make it 2-0. As Lumley looked to clear his lines, the ball only reached Kalvin Phillips who took a touch before firing into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Freeman went close to halving the deficit almost immediately but his drilled effort whizzed inches wide of the far post from 25 yards.
With 30 minutes remaining, Osayi-Samuel came on for Chair while moments later Paul Smyth replaced Wszolek.
Chances were at a premium but Rangers were thankful to Lumley on 72 minutes for a fine save to deny Alioski from close range following Roofe’s low cross from the right.
Aramide Oteh was introduced to the action for the closing 15 minutes, replacing Eze.
Despite the changes, Rangers found Leeds a difficult nut to crack and were unable to really test Peacock-Farrell in the closing stages.
As referee Darren England blew the final whistle and brought the curtain down on the 2017/18 season, Rangers will take heart from the emergence of youth which has undoubtedly been the highlight of the campaign.