JORDAN Hugill’s first-minute strike wasn’t enough for QPR, as goals from Harry Arter and Cyrus Christie earned promotion-chasing Fulham victory at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
This was a much-improved display from the R’s, with Hugill heading home Ryan Manning’s left-wing cross to make it the perfect start.
However, it was Fulham who would take bragging rights – Arter’s distance drive in the 21st minute levelling things up before another range effort, from Christie in the 75th, won the visitors all three points.
Following Saturday’s slim defeat at Charlton Athletic, R’s boss Mark Warburton made three changes to his starting XI for this west London derby.
Defender Osman Kakay was handed a first senior appearance of the season, while there were also starts for Todd Kane and Luke Amos.
QPR lined up in a 5-3-2 formation: Liam Kelly; Todd Kane, Kakay, Geoff Cameron, Yoann Barbet (captain), Manning; Dom Ball, Amos, Ebere Eze; Bright Osayi-Samuel, Hugill.
Keen to right the wrongs of consecutive defeats to Charlton and Barnsley respectively, Rangers wasted little time in stamping their authority on this contest.
Indeed, the R’s hit the front with less than a minute on the clock.
Manning’s cross hung invitingly for Hugill, who got above Tim Ream to plant his header past a stranded Marek Rodak.
The early goal gave Rangers an obvious spring in their step. Fulham, meanwhile – minus the services of suspended top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic – fashioned their first attempt in the 11th minute.
Full-back Christie won possession for the visitors before cutting in from the right and shooting straight at Kelly from 20 yards.
Fulham edged closer in the 20th minute when Harrison Reed’s edge-of-the-box effort struck the right-hand post before Rangers cleared the danger.
A minute later, though, Scott Parker’s men levelled matters. Arter’s fierce 25-yard attempt squirmed under the body of Kelly and in.
It’s fair to say Fulham improved as the first half progressed. In the 26th minute, Arter was denied a second when his goal-bound, 20-yard drive was met by a brave Amos block.
It was Rangers who should have led going into half-time, however.
In the 34th minute, Cameron’s cutting pass freed Osayi-Samuel and, when the winger eventually progressed into Fulham’s box, his cutback was hammered over by Amos on 12 yards.
Visiting goalkeeper Rodak was also forced into a fine save in the 42nd minute, acrobatically tipping Hugill’s 18-yard effort on the turn over the bar, after Rangers broke at pace.
Fulham were first to go close after the interval.
In the 49th minute, Anthony Knockaert capitalised on Barbet’s error before his low effort was smartly tipped around the post by Kelly.
Then, from the resultant set-piece, Michael Hector headed straight at the R’s custodian.
At the other end, in the 55th minute, Manning’s left-wing cross from deep was met by Kane in the box, whose first-time volley flew over the crossbar.
By the hour mark, the R’s were continuing to press for a second goal, though still had to be wary of Fulham’s threat on the counter attack.
That point was exemplified in the 63rd minute, as Knockaert’s dangerous centre forced Kane into an important intervention.
Fulham then seized the initiative with 15 minutes remaining.
With the R’s seemingly safe from danger, Christie’s well-struck attempt from 25 yards arrowed beyond Kelly and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Suddenly, Rangers now had it all to do to take a least a point from this contest.
Warburton made a double change in the 80th minute, as Aramide Oteh and Olamide Shodipo replaced Osayi-Samuel and Kane.
QPR went mightily close to restoring parity in the 88th minute, as Manning’s header from a corner crashed off the face of the crossbar. Rangers then introduced Ilias Chair for Ball.
However, the R’s could not avoid slipping to a third straight Championship defeat.
Manning again threatened, in the third of six added minutes at the end, but his looping header – from Eze’s right-wing corner at the Loft End – dropped just over.