THREE goals inside the first fifteen minutes put Rangers on course for a comprehensive 4-2 Sky Bet Championship win.
It really was an incredible opening from Ian Holloway’s men, with goals arriving from Paul Smyth (eight minutes), Jake Bidwell (10) and Idrissa Sylla (15) in quick-fire fashion.
Sylla then got his second – QPR’s fourth – from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute, before Sheffield Wednesday pulled two goals back through Fernando Forestieri (61) and Atdhe Nuhiu (69).
Fortunately, there was to be no nail biting in the end – Rangers subsequently doing enough to provide the perfect response to Saturday’s 4-0 reverse at Hull City.
Following that disappointing defeat, R’s boss Holloway made some six changes for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday – three of them enforced.
Nedum Onuoha’s suspension – following the skipper’s red card at the weekend – ruled him out, while illness and injury got the better of Massimo Luongo and Joel Lynch respectively.
Ebere Eze, Ryan Manning, Pawel Wszolek dropped down to the substitutes’ bench.
So into the team came Alex Baptiste, Jordan Cousins, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Jack Robinson, Smyth and Sylla.
The R’s lined up in a 4-3-3 formation: Alex Smithies; Darnell Furlong, Baptiste, Robinson (captain), Bidwell; Cousins, Josh Scowen, Luke Freeman; Smyth, Sylla, Osayi-Samuel.
On a night when the QPR family paid tribute to the late, great Ray Wilkins – our legendary former midfielder and manager who sadly passed away last week – Rangers made a start that truly honoured Ray’s memory.
The Super Hoops were just that inside the first quarter-hour – Holloway’s charges racing into a three-goal lead!
The first arrived in the eighth minute with what was also the first attempt at goal.
Wednesday ‘keeper Joe Wildsmith couldn’t deal with Bidwell’s hanging left-flank centre, then Smyth took a touch inside the box before firing into the bottom left-hand corner.
And Rangers fans needn’t have sat down, because they were on their feet once more only two minutes later to toast an R’s second.
Bidwell was involved again but on the scoresheet this time – his initial low effort fumbled by Wildsmith before the left-back followed up to tuck the ball away from eight yards.
QPR were rampant – and in the 13th minute Wildsmith produced a fantastic save to deny Freeman, following his fierce low attempt from 10 yards.
But Rangers weren’t to be denied a third, stretching their lead two minutes later.
This time Furlong was the architect, crossing with his weaker left foot from the right before Sylla arrived at the back post to head home from all of a yard out.
After such a breathtaking opening, it’s fair to say that the rest of the first half was played in a slightly-calmer fashion.
Things were more even after goal number three, with Rangers admittedly having Smithies to thank for producing two fine saves in minutes 21 and 32.
The goalkeeper reacted to tip Adam Reach’s 20-yard blast over, then stood tall to deny Nuhiu from point-blank range, after the latter broke free of the QPR defence.
Rangers’ 3-0 lead remained intact going into half-time – and was further extended thanks to a similarly-strong start to the closing period.
Again, it took the R’s only eight minutes from the kick-off to score, with QPR’s fourth goal arriving from the penalty spot.
Tom Lees hacked down Osayi-Samuel in the box, paving the way for Sylla to stroke home his second of the evening from 12 yards.
Three minutes later, Rangers threatened a fifth as Freeman let fly from range, but Wildsmith got down low to save well at the foot of his left-hand post.
With an hour gone, QPR’s four-goal lead looked very much unassailable.
Not that visitors Wednesday agreed, as two goals in eight second-half minutes were enough to get the nerves jangling a little around Loftus Road.
First Forestieri finished well on the angle from 12 yards in the 61st minute.
Then in the 69th minute – after Rangers replaced Scowen and Sylla with Manning and Matt Smith – Nuhiu sent a thumping header into the bottom left-hand corner.
Suddenly, the momentum was with the away team somewhat, and Holloway used his third and final sub by bringing on Wszolek for Osayi-Samuel 13 minutes from time.
Thankfully, the R’s were able to settle things down thereafter to rubberstamp their victory.
Indeed, both Smithies and his defence stood firm thereafter, ensuring there would be no late show from the Owls in W12.
Four-two to the Super Hoops.