TOMER Hemed was at the double, as three goals in the first 17 minutes sent ruthless Rangers on their way to a 4-0 success over Swansea City in the Sky Bet Championship.
Darnell Furlong headed QPR in front after only three minutes at Loftus Road, before Hemed’s clinical double (minutes five and 17) put the R’s out of sight before half-time.
Massimo Luongo rubberstamped this comprehensive victory in the second half – prodding home with his left foot in the 54th minute after Swansea struggled to clear their lines.
Following Wednesday night’s goalless draw with Millwall at The Den, R’s caretaker boss John Eustace made four changes to QPR’s starting XI.
Into the team came Angel Rangel, Jordan Cousins, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Hemed. Joel Lynch, Matt Smith and Nahki Wells dropped down to the substitutes’ bench, while Geoff Cameron missed out altogether.
Jake Bidwell (calf) was also absent once again owing to injury.
Rangers lined up in a 4-3-3 formation: Joe Lumley; Rangel, Furlong, Toni Leistner (captain), Ryan Manning; Josh Scowen, Luongo, Cousins; Luke Freeman, Hemed, Bright Osayi-Samuel.
Despite a mostly-forgettable 2019 to date, Rangers went into this contest knowing victory would go a long way in securing our Championship status for another season.
The R’s certainly looked like a team on a mission from the off – racing into a two-goal lead after just five minutes.
Furlong kick-started QPR’s awesome opening in the third minute.
After Swansea goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt reacted to push away the defender’s header from a left-flank Scowen corner, Furlong got his name on the scoresheet from the resultant set-piece.
This time Freeman was the architect – crossing from the right before Furlong got in front of his marker at the near post to nod the R’s in front.
Lift-off at Loftus Road – and Hoops fans were on their feet once again only two minutes later, Hemed this time getting in on the scoring act.
Lumley could claim the assist for this one. His long ball forward wasn’t dealt with by the visiting defence before Hemed muscled his way past Cameron Carter-Vickers to send a left-footed half-volley past Nordfeldt.
Swansea were left startled by Rangers’ intense pressing play and, though a small period of calm ensued thereafter, the R’s added a third goal in the 17th minute.
Scowen impressively worked space for himself down the right, subsequently fizzing in a cross that was slid home on the volley by Hemed.
Incredibly, QPR were already 3-0 up with less than half an hour played. Swansea, on the other hand, arguably played their best football in the first half while on the end of that deficit.
City’s George Byers went close in the 28th minute, curling marginally past the upright from 20 yards.
However, there was to be no further goalscoring action before the break. Swansea may have enjoyed more possession, but it was Rangers who were deservedly cheered off the pitch at half-time following a clinical first-half showing.
Into the second half, then, and influential visiting midfielder Dan James blasted a decent opportunity over just seconds after the re-start.
But Rangers were soon back in their ruthless groove and, after Freeman’s free-kick caused a real goalmouth scramble in the 53rd minute, the R’s added a fourth goal in the 54th.
Freeman was again the provider – his left-wing centre causing confusion once more before Luongo stabbed the ball home from eight yards.
Chances continued to flow thereafter.
In the 58th minute, Hemed spurned a good opportunity to hit a hat-trick – sending the ball past the post with his shoulder following yet another dangerous Freeman delivery. Then on the hour mark, at the other end, Carter-Vickers’ close-range header struck the crossbar.
Rangers were back on the attack in the 62nd minute, with Cousins shooting over on the half-volley after the ball pinballed around Swansea’s penalty area.
QPR’s first change arrived on 69 minutes – Pawel Wszolek replacing Freeman – before Rangel produced a goal-line clearance to deny James two minutes later.
Clear chances dried up somewhat after that, but Rangers used their commanding lead to give a senior debut to Under-23s forward Lewis Walker – brought on for two-goal hero Hemed seven minutes from time. Ebere Eze was also introduced, for Rangel, in the 88th minute.
With the final opportunity of the game in second-half stoppage time, subs Eze and Wszolek combined with audacious effect. However, the latter’s firm edge-of-the-box effort was collected smartly by Nordfeldt.
Four-nil to the Super Hoops.