RANGERS were unable to turn a dominant performance into all three points – instead being undone by two separate Hull City sucker-punches in either half.
Things started off well enough for the R’s, with Ilias Chair shooting home from 20 yards after as many minutes to hand the hosts the lead at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Very much against the run of play, though, Hull equalised through George Honeyman in the 32nd minute.
And following another half of QPR dominance in the second period came a second Tigers goal that proved to be the killer blow, as Jackson Irvine turned in Jarrod Bowen’s 89th-minute free-kick to claim victory for Hull.
Following our 1-0 Boxing Day defeat at Reading, boss Mark Warburton made four changes to his starting XI for our final game of 2019.
Geoff Cameron missed out altogether owing to the birth of his baby son, while Todd Kane, Marc Pugh and Jordan Hugill dropped down to the bench.
Angel Rangel returned from injury to start at right-back. Dom Ball, Chair and Nahki Wells also deputised.
There was a spot among the substitutes for Liam Kelly, who had been out with injury, too.
The R’s began in a 4-2-3-1 formation, lining up as: Joe Lumley; Rangel, Grant Hall (captain), Toni Leistner, Ryan Manning; Ball, Luke Amos; Bright Osayi-Samuel, Chair, Ebere Eze; Wells.
Hull included QPR academy product Josh Bowler in their starting line-up - the winger currently on loan with the Tigers from Everton.
The opening stanza didn’t exactly make for a thrilling contest, though Rangers showed the greater attacking intent.
The home side had the first effort of the game, too, with Wells heading Eze’s free-kick straight at visiting goalkeeper George Long on 11 minutes.
QPR edged themselves in front with the next real opportunity of the match on 20 minutes.
Chair’s stunning solo effort gave Rangers the lead – the Moroccan eventually taking control of possession following a short Eze corner before arrowing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net from 20 yards.
Three minutes later, one-nil was so nearly two.
Wells, slipped in by Eze, raced away down the left and, when he pulled the ball back to Amos in the penalty area, the latter’s subsequent low shot was blocked by a host of Hull bodies on the edge of the six-yard box.
Rangers were beginning to look good value for their early lead and threatened again through a confident Osayi-Samuel on 26 minutes, who cut in from the right before shooting past the opposite upright with his weaker left foot.
Hull offered little in attack during the opening half an hour – with QPR again showing intent in the 31st minute. Rangel went on a lung-busting run before picking out Wells down the right, before his cross was headed wide by Chair – albeit under heavy pressure from his marker.
However, despite all of that positive play, the visitors restored parity only a minute later thanks to a big helping hand from the R’s.
Bowler’s right-wing centre was spilled by Lumley, then former Sunderland midfielder Honeyman nipped in to poke Hull level.
That was mightily harsh on Rangers and Hull nearly compounded matters by adding a quick-fire second goal – Bowler again involved, with his fierce effort from the right-hand side of the box impressively tipped wide of the far post by Lumley.
At the other end, QPR were almost back in front on 37 minutes. A three-man passing move put Chair in the clear, whose subsequent blast forced a fine fingertip save from Hull’s Long.
There would be no further goalscoring action before half-time - the Hoops going in at the break no doubt wondering how on earth they weren’t in front.
Rangers began the second half brightly and spurned a decent opening in the 47th minute.
Rangel and Osayi-Samuel combined well down the right to find Eze on 15 yards, but he could only sky his attempt over.
Seven minutes later, the R’s worked another chance for Amos 20 yards from goal, who shot wide of the target.
Rangers continued to ask questions of the Hull rearguard and goalkeeper Long, who fashioned another fingertip stop to keep out Manning’s cross-shot on 56 minutes. Five minutes later, Ball’s 25-yard attempt darted past the left-hand post.
Much like the opening period, QPR were very much the dominant force in this encounter, but a second goal had so far proved elusive.
On 66 minutes came a first R’s change, as Amos made way for Matt Smith. Then, just a minute later, the visitors almost scored against the run of play once more when Tom Eaves nearly headed in with his first touch having replaced Kamil Grosicki.
A second home substitution followed, as Hugill came on for Chair in the 79th minute. And just seconds later, Manning shot straight at Long following a corner kick at the School End.
Rangers went close to regaining their lead eight minutes from time. Eze played in Wells down the left and, when he subsequently slid the ball across the face of goal, sub Hugill slid in but was just unable to get a touch.
Instead, it was Hull who would snatch an unlikely second goal to ultimately collect all three points in W12.
As late as the 89th minute, Bowen sent in an inswinging free-kick from the right to pick out an unmarked Irvine, with the Australian international then prodding home from all of three-yards out.