QPR missed out on the opportunity to climb into the Sky Bet Championship’s automatic promotion places, instead falling to defeat in this west London derby in W12.
Brentford took a deserved first-half lead through the in-form Ollie Watkins on 23 minutes, before Rangers started the second period strongly to level through returning skipper Grant Hall in the 48th minute.
It was to be the visitors’ night, though, after a contested penalty award put them on course for three points at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. Bryan Mbeumo went down unchallenged in the box, before Said Benrahma duly smashed home from 12 yards on the hour mark.
The R’s huffed and puffed in the attempt to find a second equaliser, but were on the end of a 3-1 defeat, ultimately – Watkins adding his second, Brentford’s third, deep into second-half stoppage time.
Rangers boss Mark Warburton made two enforced changes to his starting XI following last Tuesday’s 2-2 home draw with Reading.
Injury and suspension ruled out former Brentford man Yoann Barbet (hamstring) and Jordan Hugill respectively, so Hall – returning from an injury of his own – and Bright Osayi-Samuel deputised in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The R’s lined up as: Liam Kelly; Angel Rangel, Toni Leistner, Hall (captain), Ryan Manning; Ebere Eze, Josh Scowen, Geoff Cameron, Osayi-Samuel; Ilias Chair; Nahki Wells.
When the game got underway, visitors Brentford admittedly took control of possession in the opening stages.
However, it was Rangers who had the first effort on target. After Brentford surrendered possession in their own half, Osayi-Samuel eventually saw his low cross-shot saved by David Raya in the 10th minute.
Brentford should have made their early pressure count in the 16th minute, though – denied by an impressive double save from Kelly.
Josh Dasilva did well to wriggle free of a cluster of markers, subsequently slipping in Mbeumo to shoot low at the R’s goalkeeper. Watkins then followed up on the rebound, heading into the arms of a grateful Kelly from six yards.
Bees striker Watkins wouldn’t pass on his next opportunity, however, heading the visitors into a 23rd-minute lead.
Following a fine passing move, Mbeumo probably had too much time to send over an inswinging cross from the right, picking out Watkins – who found space for himself between two R’s men – to guide a header into the bottom right-hand corner.
Rangers showed signs of improvement after that opening goal, but their willingness to commit bodies saw them live a little dangerously up to half-time, against a Brentford side who looked extremely handy on the counter attack.
QPR weren’t at their flowing best in the first half, but were out of the traps quickly in the second to restore parity.
After visiting ‘keeper Raya pulled off a spectacular save to keep out Wells’ header, Rangers levelled matters in 48th minute from the resultant corner kick.
Eze’s right-flank set-piece was met by Hall, who powered his header past Raya at the Loft End to equalise for the R’s.
Rangers took confidence from their levelling goal, though Brentford did go close to restoring their lead just three minutes after being pegged back. Benrahma’s curling effort from 18 yards flew just past the right-hand post.
But the visitors would regain their lead following a controversial penalty award just short of the hour.
Video replays suggested that Mbeumo went down in the box without a touch from Scowen – and Benrahma subsequently stepped up to bury his spot-kick past Kelly.
Brentford back in front then and, three minutes after their second goal, Kelly pulled off a big save to deny Benrahma from adding a third, pushing the latter’s low attempt wide.
At the other end, two minutes later, Rangers threatened another equaliser when Eze nutmegged his marker before shooting firmly at Raya.
Then, in the 68th minute, the R's again had Kelly to thank for keeping out Dasilva’s stinging box volley.
Unsurprisingly, and with the clock beginning to tick down, this was now end-to-end stuff.
Rangers made an attacking substitution in the 72nd minute, with Jan Mlakar brought on to replace Cameron.
Four minutes later, yet another fine Kelly stop denied Watkins, who turned his marker and fired low from 14 yards.
In the 83rd minute, it was QPR’s turn to attack. A neatly-worked move ended with Chair’s fierce 20-yard attempt being held well by Raya.
As time continued to run out for the R’s, Eze’s low edge-of-the-box effort was kept out by Raya, before four minutes of stoppage time were signalled.
Unfortunately, there was to be no late show from the R’s – Brentford adding a third goal deep into time added on to seal victory.
With the game stretched, a ball over the top put sub Mathias Jensen in the clear, who in turn slid the ball across goal for Watkins to add his second of the night from close range.
Mental health charity Mind joined QPR for the fixture to help raise awareness among fans about mental health and the support the charity provides. This charity matchday, which also raised funds for the club's local branch Kensington & Chelsea Mind, came as part of Mind’s partnership with the EFL, symbolised by the charity's squiggle logo on the backs of players' shirts. For more information, visit mind.org.uk