EBERE Eze’s double saw Rangers finally taste that winning feeling again – the R’s 2-0 victors over Preston North End at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
QPR, who also kept a clean sheet for the very first time this season in all competitions, hit the front after pouncing on the opening chance of the game in the 17th minute. Eze’s initial box attempt was repelled by Declan Rudd, but the England Under-21 international followed up to slam the Super Hoops into the lead.
Victory was secured from the penalty spot in the 67th minute.
Marc Pugh was felled by North End custodian Rudd, before Eze struck his second goal of the afternoon to set the seal on all three points staying in west London.
Following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Derby County, R’s boss Mark Warburton made two changes to his starting XI – one of them enforced.
Injury ruled out Angel Rangel, while Luke Amos dropped down among the substitutes. So into the team came Todd Kane and Nahki Wells.
QPR began in a 4-1-3-2 formation, lining up as: Joe Lumley; Kane, Grant Hall (captain), Toni Leistner, Ryan Manning; Geoff Cameron; Bright Osayi-Samuel, Eze, Pugh; Jordan Hugill, Wells.
Rangers came into this contest without a win in seven fixtures, while visitors Preston headed to the capital on the back of three straight defeats.
The opening exchanges were therefore understandably cagey, with the first real opportunity of the game not arriving until the 17th minute – a chance the R’s duly capitalised on.
Patient approach play from the hosts ended with Cameron flighting a beautifully-weighted pass for Eze over the top of the North End defence.
The Rangers playmaker subsequently strode into the box with the ball and, when Preston goalkeeper Rudd blocked Eze’s initial low effort, the latter followed up to fire QPR into the lead.
The R’s in front, then, and Warburton’s men took confidence from that opening goal – threatening a second in the 24th minute.
Hoops winger Osayi-Samuel managed to get a shot away from 18 yards, but the effort veered away from the left-hand post. Seven minutes later, meanwhile, Pugh’s bouncing low effort was collected smartly by Rudd.
Preston’s first attempt of note didn’t arrive until the 32nd minute. Skipper Alan Browne let fly from 25 yards, but his shot flew past the upright.
Play switched from one end to the other two minutes later.
First, Eze looked to break on the counter attack for the R’s but, around midway into the visiting half, Ben Pearson pinched the ball to push Preston forward.
The latter subsequently slipped in Sean Maguire and, as he looked to race onto the ball in the penalty area, Rangers’ Hall produced an inch-perfect challenge to halt him in his tracks.
The first half would ultimately end without any further goalscoring action, even though Hugill spurned a decent opportunity three minutes from the interval.
Hall’s free-kick from deep was cushioned into his path by strike partner Wells, with Hugill then firing his half-volley handsomely over from 18 yards.
Much like the opening period, chances didn’t exactly flow at the beginning of the second.
The first effort of note arrived in the 54th minute, as Eze’s curling 20-yard shot was pushed away from goal by Rudd.
At the other end, just short of the hour mark, an important piece of defending from the R’s kept the one-goal lead intact.
Maguire’s looping cross from the right-hand byline looked to be to a tee for Tom Barkhuizen at the back post, but Kane intervened in the nick of time to head the ball off the goal-line at the School End.
Rangers followed that up by doubling their lead from the penalty spot in the 67th minute.
Rudd was penalised for bringing down Pugh in the box and, when Eze stepped up to take the resultant kick, he confidently slid the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Rangers were now firmly in the driving seat and manager Warburton wasted little time in making a substitution to protect that two-goal advantage. Josh Scowen replaced Wells.
The R’s worked another chance in the 71st minute, as Hugill raced onto Manning’s volleyed ball forward before blazing over from 20 yards.
Seven minutes later, Lumley was forced into a rare stop to keep out visiting sub Billy Bodin, whose half-volley from the edge of the box was palmed away from goal by the strong, outstretched left hand of the Rangers custodian.
In the end, that save proved to be one of the final pieces of the jigsaw in the R’s keeping a clean sheet they so desperately craved.
And no further goals meant that Rangers were back to winning ways thanks to Eze’s double – the attacker leaving the field to a fine reception when he was replaced by Amos four minutes from time.
Two-nil to the Super Hoops.