MARK Warburton’s QPR kept up their unbeaten start to the season – winning 5-4 on penalties following a 3-3 draw during normal time in this highly entertaining first round Carabao Cup tie.
Visitors Bristol City opened the scoring in this goal-laden encounter through Famara Diedhiou in the 13th minute, before Rangers roared back with goals from Nahki Wells (15) and Ilias Chair (26) at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Blockbuster attempts from Jack Hunt (41) and Liam Walsh (59) put Lee Johnson’s men back in front.
Ryan Manning’s late penalty (86) sent the game to spot-kicks, which culminated in Liam Kelly saving from Bailey Wright on the former’s competitive QPR debut to send the R’s into round two.
Following Saturday’s 1-1 home Championship draw with Huddersfield Town, Rangers – like visitors Bristol City – made eight changes and handed full debuts to Kelly, Dominic Ball and Matt Smith.
The R’s lined up in a 3-5-2 formation: Kelly; Ball, Toni Leistner, Yoann Barbet; Todd Kane, Smith, Josh Scowen, Marc Pugh, Ryan Manning; Chair, Wells.
When the tie got underway, Rangers threatened through separate efforts from Chair, Wells, Leistner and Kane inside the first 10 minutes.
However, after Hunt’s low centre somehow flashed across the six-yard box without a touch in the 13th minute, Bristol City followed that warning sign up with the opening goal moments later.
Diedhiou finished off a three-man passing move from the Robins, rounding Kelly before shooting home from the tightest of angles at the Loft End.
Advantage Lee Johnson’s team, then. But not for long.
Indeed, Rangers levelled matters only two minutes later.
Chair cushioned the ball into strike partner for the evening Wells, who buried his 20-yard effort into the bottom right-hand corner.
After Antoine Semenyo’s rasping low drive forced a smart stop from Kelly in the 18th minute, at the other end Pugh saw a shot deflect wide before Daniel Bentley saved well from Chair.
Chair’s effort was particularly close – and he wouldn’t pass on his next opportunity, putting the R’s into the lead for the first time on 26 minutes.
Wells intelligently slipped in Pugh down the left and, when the former Bournemouth man subsequently crossed low for Chair, he kept his cool to slide home from eight yards.
Five minutes later, Rangers threatened a third as Manning’s blast was tipped around the post by Bentley.
However, the first half finished 2-2 thanks to a thumping City second four minutes before the break.
It was some strike by visiting full-back Hunt, whose 25-yard thunderbolt flew into the top left-hand corner.
The second period took a little while to kick into life.
Rangers should have regained the lead in the 56th minute. Pugh and Manning combined before the latter’s cross-shot was blocked by Bentley. Then Chair followed up to fire agonisingly wide from a couple of yards out.
But it was Bristol City who would take a 3-2 lead with the goal of the game yet just before the hour mark.
Walsh’s glorious 30-yard free-kick cleared the home wall before clipping the underside of the crossbar and nestling into the back of the net. Some effort indeed.
Rangers responded with a double change, as Pugh and Kane made way for Luke Amos and Jan Mlakar.
In the 67th minute, Manning’s left-wing delivery was headed straight at Bentley by Wells. Then, three minutes later, Chair curled over from 20 yards after some tidy home approach play.
The visitors probably should have extended their lead in the 71st minute, as Diedhiou headed a good opportunity over from four yards. The R’s made their final substitution two minutes later, as Charlie Owens replaced Scowen.
Rangers had strong appeals for a penalty turned away in the 79th minute, as Manning went to ground in the box after clashing with City sub Adam Nagy. Then the R’s went mightily close when Wells rattled an effort against the bar from 25 yards.
But QPR would add a third goal with a penalty to subsequently take the game straight to spot-ticks.
After Walsh sent Wells tumbling in the area, Manning stepped up to hammer the ball in via the inside of the right-hand post.
Manning (QPR) – Scored
Diedhiou (Bristol City) – Missed
Mlakar (QPR) – Scored
Walsh (Bristol City) – Scored
Wells (QPR) – Scored
O’Dowda (Bristol City) – Scored
Smith (QPR) – Missed
Eliasson (Bristol City) – Missed
Barbet (QPR) – Missed
Moore (Bristol City) – Scored
Chair (QPR) – Scored
Rowe (Bristol City) – Scored
Amos (QPR) – Scored
Wright (Bristol City) – Missed
QPR won 5-4 on penalties