MATT Smith’s 93rd-minute strike handed the R’s a dramatic 2-1 win in this action-packed, end-of-season fixture at Hillsborough.
A goal to the good at half-time thanks to Josh Scowen’s 28th-minute strike, Ebere Eze – who produced an otherwise-impressive performance – missed an 80th-minute penalty to put QPR two goals to the good.
Sandwiched in between those moments was another penalty miss, from Sheffield Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri in the 57th minute, but Michael Hector didn’t fluff his lines with his own spot-kick to equalise for the hosts in the 84th minute.
It looked like the R’s would be punished for missing a host of second-half opportunities, namely the penalty, but Smith had other ideas – expertly volleying home late, late on to earn the Super Hoops all three points.
R’s caretaker boss John Eustace handed young winger Olamide Shodipo his first start of the campaign in this season finale.
Rangers lined up in a 4-4-2 formation: Joe Lumley; Darnell Furlong, Toni Leistner (captain), Geoff Cameron, Ryan Manning; Eze, Scowen, Massimo Luongo, Shodipo; Bright Osayi-Samuel, Smith.
On the bench, Under-23s midfielder Amrit Bansal-McNulty was named among QPR’s substitutes for the very first time.
When the game got underway, Rangers began brightly enough, forcing a couple of corners.
Meanwhile, Wednesday had the first effort of note in the eighth minute, with Scowen producing an important intervention to keep out Tom Lees’ stinging shot.
In truth, this fixture had a real one-paced feel about it early on, though the home side should have taken the lead in both minutes 15 and 22.
First, Marco Matias raced in behind the R’s defence before attempting to square the ball across goal when it perhaps would have been better to shoot. Thankfully, Furlong was on hand to clear the danger.
The Rangers defender also produced a goal-saving tackle seven minutes later.
Wednesday again got in behind the visiting defence and, when Lucas Joao crossed from the right, Furlong got in front of Steven Fletcher in the nick of time to save the R’s.
At the other end, it was the hosts’ turn to produce a timely piece of defending to keep out Eze in the 27th minute, who tried his luck from 16 yards.
The R’s then forged ahead only a minute later.
Scowen started and finished a well-worked move, taking control of possession before Rangers mounted an attack through Luongo and Furlong.
Furlong then crossed from the right and into the path of Scowen, who had advanced into the penalty area. The midfielder took a touch to free himself before confidently sliding the ball past Keiren Westwood from eight yards.
Advantage Rangers, then, and the 1-0 lead is one that Eustace’s team took into half-time with them.
Wednesday did threaten a levelling goal in the 32nd minute, when Matias headed over from close range, while QPR’s Osayi-Samuel probably should have done better when played through on goal by Eze six minutes before the break.
Into the second half, and it was Osayi-Samuel who again spurned a fine opportunity to double Rangers’ lead in the 55th minute.
More good work from Eze slipped in the former Blackpool man, who could only fire straight at Westwood from 10 yards.
Then, a minute later, hosts Wednesday were awarded a hotly-contested penalty – given for a supposed foul on Forestieri from R’s skipper Leistner.
Video replays showed there was minute, if any contact, though it mattered little as Forestieri ballooned the subsequent spot-kick over the crossbar.
Rangers’ lead remained intact, and they missed further good chances to extend it thereafter.
In the 62nd minute, Eze’s deflected effort from inside the box was gathered by Westwood, then the home goalkeeper somehow denied Smith four minutes later when the forward rounded him before attempting to dink the ball home.
Fourteen minutes from time, meanwhile, Osayi-Samuel raced away down the left before cutting the ball back for Eze, whose subsequent drive was deflected just wide.
Rangers were presented with their best chance yet to add a second goal when awarded a penalty in the 79th minute.
Eze and Osayi-Samuel teased the Wednesday defence before the latter was tripped inside the box – but Eze's 12-yard kick was saved by Westwood.
It looked like the R’s were going to pay for that, with the home side converting from their second penalty award of the afternoon in the 84th minute.
Manning was penalised for an apparent trip on Matias, then Hector stepped up to shoot home and seemingly earn Wednesday a share of the spoils.
However, Rangers weren’t done yet.
Deep into four minutes of second-half stoppage time, Luongo broke away down the left and, when he crossed for Smith, the imposing frontman hammered home on the volley from 12 yards to snatch victory for the R’s.
Two-one to the Super Hoops.