A BRACE from Lyndon Dykes and one each for Stefan Johansen and Chris Willock steered QPR to a comfortable 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Dykes made it three in two games, following on from his late strike at Nottingham Forest on Monday with two goals of far greater meaning against the relegation-threatened Owls.
The Scotland No.9 opened the scoring with a fine diving header before Josh Windass levelled for the visitors.
Rangers were clinical after the break, however, with Johansen firing home from distance before Dykes got his ninth of the season with another clever header.
Willock wrapped up the scoring with a close-range finish after a fine ball across the face of goal by substitute George Thomas.
Mark Warburton made two changes from the side that lost against Nottingham Forest six days ago, bringing in Jordy De Wijs and Sam Field for Dominic Ball and the suspended Charlie Austin.
It meant Rangers lined up with Seny Deng between the sticks behind a back three of Yoann Barbet, De Wijs and Rob Dickie, while Lee Wallace and Osman Kakay continued on the flanks.
Field partnered Stefan Johansen in the middle of the park behind Ilias Chair and Chris Willock, while Lyndon Dykes led the line.
Rangers were looking to bounce back from that defeat at the City Ground against a Wednesday side buoyed by their stunning 5-0 win over Cardiff City.
With the Owls seven points adrift of safety, they would surely view this as a must-win match with only seven fixtures remaining.
Assistant boss Jamie Smith was the main man in the away dugout, with manager Darren Moore self-isolating following a positive COVID-19 test.
After a two-minute period of silence was observed following the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, it was the hosts who started well and the returning De Wijs had the first chance after a well-recycled corner, but the Dutchman was unable to find the target.
Willock went even closer in the seventh minute with a half-volley from 12 yards which was parried away by Joe Wildsmith, but it was an encouraging start from Warburton’s men.
The Owls enjoyed a sustained period of possession after that without creating too much and it was the hosts who took the lead on 27 minutes with a stunning effort from Dykes.
Barbet picked the Scotland striker out with a perfect delivery from the left, but Dykes still had plenty to do but he managed to beat Wildsmith with a downward header from 16 yards for his eighth goal of the season.
The lead only lasted three minutes, however. Adam Reach found Josh Windass in space in the QPR box and he took one touch to control before coolly slotting beyond Dieng.
It was the sort of response Smith, and the absent Moore, will have wanted from their side as they fight for their Championship survival.
Chances remained at a premium for both sides although Windass will have been disappointed he didn’t net his second of the afternoon shortly before the break when he was found on the edge of the box by Barry Bannan, but his curled effort from 18 yards was easily gathered by Dieng.
At the other end of the pitch, Chair forced a full-strecth save from Wildsmith but the sides went in level at the break.
QPR didn’t waste any time getting on the front foot following the interval, and regained their lead just four minutes after the restart through Johansen.
Chair picked up the ball on the left from Willock, and set up Johnsen who fired goalwards from 20 yards. It seemed to take a slight deflection on the way through which wrong-footed Wildsmith, giving the Norwegian his third Rangers goal since joining on loan from Fulham in January.
Wednesday again reacted positively to the set back, and on 58 minutes Jordan Rhodes went close but was unable to convert from six yards as the ball flashed across the goal.
It proved to be a costly miss as Rangers doubled their advantage just two minutes later, and again it was Dykes who did the damage.
Dickie played a great a ball from the right which Willock headed towards the back post for the Scotland man who very calmly, and confidently, nodded the ball back in the direction it came from to beat the stranded Wildsmith.
Wednesday did have the ball in the back of the net on 68 minutes but the goal was ruled out for a challenge from Rhodes on Dieng, as the R’s keeper rose to claim the ball.
De Wijs, who looked impressive again, was replaced moments later by Albert Adomah, with the former Nottingham Forest man taking up a right wingback role while Kakay moved inside as a right-sided centre-back.
Moore’s men certainly weren’t giving up on this fixture, with Elias Kachunga and Windass both going close to reducing the arrears.
It was now a very open affair, and the impressive Willock clattered the post from 18 yards as QPR continued to ask questions of the Owls rearguard.
With 15 minutes remaining, George Thomas came on for Chair, while moments later Dom Ball and Faysal Bettache were introduced at the expense of Field and Johansen.
And in the closing stages Rangers put the gloss on a solid display when Thomas broke down the right before sliding across the face of goal for the onrushing Willock to slam the ball beyond the exposed Wildsmith.
It was an impressive, clinical performance from QPR as they notched up their third consecutive home win.