BRIGHT Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair both scored their first-ever senior QPR goals, as Rangers came from behind to beat struggling Birmingham City 3-1 in the final home fixture of the season.
On an afternoon when the Loftus Road faithful bid an emotional farewell to outgoing players such as club captain Nedum Onuoha and Jamie Mackie, the visitors took a 27th-minute lead when Che Adams slid home at close range.
But Ian Holloway’s men were level just two minutes later, as Osayi-Samuel finished off a tidy team move.
And after Chair finished in impressive fashion in the 70th minute, substitute Matt Smith rubber-stamped the win in the second of four added minutes at the death.
Hoops boss Holloway made five changes to his Rangers team following defeat against Brentford last weekend.
After returning from his successful loan spell at Blackpool in midweek – that after injury to Matt Ingram in the 2-1 reverse at Griffin Park – goalkeeper Joe Lumley made his first start of the season for the R’s.
There were also spaces in QPR’s XI for Chair, Ebere Eze, Ryan Manning and Osayi-Samuel.
Concussion and a knee injury ruled out Ingram and Alex Baptiste respectively, while Aussie international Massimo Luongo also missed out altogether following the decision to rest him ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Pawel Wszolek wasn’t named in the 18-man squad, though there was a spot among the substitutes for Paul Smyth.
The R’s lined up in a 4-3-3 formation: Lumley; Osman Kakay, Darnell Furlong, Jake Bidwell, Manning; Chair, Josh Scowen, Luke Freeman; Eze, Idrissa Sylla, Osayi-Samuel.
This contest wasn’t exactly a classic early on, though a youthful-looking Rangers team looked to take the game to their second-city visitors inside the opening 15 or so minutes.
Birmingham goalkeeper David Stockdale gathered smartly on four separate occasions, as Eze (twice), Manning and Freeman all sent in low attempts.
The visitors improved a little after that. In the 26th minute, Lukas Jutkiewicz fired over in space 16 yards from goal. That was Blues’ first real opportunity of the opening half.
Garry Monk’s charges then took the lead with their first shot on target in the 27th minute.
Jacques Maghoma sent over a low cross from the left-hand side of the box, before Adams arrived to slide beyond Lumley from all of four yards.
Rangers didn’t exactly deserve to trail – but they responded in quick-fire fashion to level matters in the 29th minute.
It was a well-worked move that led to the hosts equalising. Freeman displayed neat footwork down the right before crossing to the back post for Chair, who in turn played the ball back across the six-yard box for Osayi-Samuel.
The winger’s first-time effort took a nick off a defender before nestling into the back of the net.
Parity restored, and there were good saves from either goalkeeper before the half-time whistle was sounded.
In the 37th minute, Maghoma’s low blast was held well by Lumley.
Then four minutes before half-time, Osayi-Samuel’s half-volley from the edge of the box forced a stunning stop from Stockdale, who flung himself backwards to tip the ball over the crossbar.
When the second half got underway, Rangers went mightily close to taking the lead 10 minutes after the interval.
Bidwell’s point-blank header, from Freeman’s right-flank corner, forced a fantastic reaction save from Stockdale, before Freeman followed up to fire into the arms of the visiting custodian.
A minute later, Freeman was involved again, with his stinging distance effort pushed wide by Stockdale.
Then it was Birmingham's turn to go close, in the 59th minute.
Jota’s edge-of-the-area attempt was spilled by Lumley, before Jutkiewicz – albeit on the stretch – followed up to shoot wide from six yards.
Blues should have been ahead come the 62nd minute. Jota’s corner from the right was met by skipper Michael Morrison at the back post who, under pressure from his marker, somehow fired into the side-netting from a yard out.
Rangers made their first two changes of the afternoon in minutes 67 and 69.
Departing duo Onuoha and Mackie were given a rousing reception following their respective introductions, for Kakay and Osayi-Samuel.
Those subs helped to crank up the volume around Loftus Road – and R’s fans had a second goal to cheer, too, come the 70th minute.
Again, it was lovely skill from Freeman that enabled him to hang up a cross from the left-hand side of the box. It was then left to Chair to hammer home inside the six-yard box, with what was an extremely well-taken finish on the volley.
Despite trailing, Rangers were now in front.
But Birmingham threatened to reply on more than one occasion after QPR’s second goal. Morrison, Maxime Colin, Maghoma and Jota all went close with their own respective efforts.
The R’s used their final sub in the 77th minute, with Smith replacing Sylla.
Smith was duly involved eight minutes later, flicking on to put Mackie through on goal in a route-one move.
Unfortunately, the latter couldn’t make it a dream farewell thereafter, with Mackie’s 10-yard effort on the angle beaten away by the fists of Stockdale.
But Rangers would eventually add a third goal during four minutes of second-half stoppage time.
Sub Smith was involved once more, eventually controlling a high ball into the penalty area before shooting home via the foot of the right-hand post.
Three-one to the Super Hoops.