QPR grabbed a sensational win at Bristol City with an injury time header from Yoann Barbet.
After Charlie Austin’s spot kick at the end of the first half cancelled out Alex Scott’s early strike at Ashton Gate, the game appeared to be heading for a draw – but there was one more header to count on, and that was the one from the Frenchman!
The hosts played much of the second half with ten men after Andy King was sent off but it looked like Rangers had been unable to make their numerical advantage count, until the R’s won a corner in injury time.
Stefan Johansen’s delivery was met at the near post by Barbet and flew beyond Max O’Leary in the City goal.
There were incredible scenes as the R’s celebrated in front of almost 2,000 travelling QPR fans.
City burst into the lead with a deflected goal from Scott after just three minutes and had a number of chances to increase that lead before Austin was able to smash home the leveller from the spot after Luke Amos had been felled.
Mark Warburton made three changes from the side that lost to Bournemouth three days ago, bringing in Albert Adomah, Amos and Austin.
Ossie Kakay and Lyndon Dykes were named on the bench while Ilias Chair missed out through injury.
In a sign of these Covid times, Warburton was only able to name five substitutes.
Rangers lined up with Seny Dieng behind a back three of Barbet, Jimmy Dunne and Rob Dickie, with Lee Wallace wide on the left and Adomah likewise on the right.
Sam Field played in the centre of the park behind a more advanced duo of Amos and Johansen, while Austin led the line with Chris Willock in behind.
The R’s went into this game aiming to get back on track following defeats in their last two outings, and knowing victory would help to cement their position in the play-off pack.
Bristol City, meanwhile, had won two, drawn two and lost two of their last six fixtures. A perfect demonstration, perhaps, of the Championship.
It was a strong start from the hosts and they had the lead after just three minutes when the ball was pulled across the penalty box and fell invitingly for Scott, whose shot deflected off Dunne to deceive Dieng and loop into the back of the net.
It was the 18-year-old’s third goal of the season and all the home crowd needed to get behind their side.
And they would have been 2-0 up in the 11th minute had it not been for a great save from Dieng.
Callum O’Dowda pulled the ball back from the left and Antoine Semenyo’s deft touch looked to be heading for the bottom corner, but Dieng was able to block it with his leg.
It was a let off for the R’s but there was no doubting who was in control of the early exchanges.
Three minutes later Dieng was called into action again, this time to deny Matty James.
As the half wore on, QPR grew into the game and Austin fired over after a neat turn on 29 minutes but the opening 45 was a largely scrappy affair, with the game broken up by a series of niggly freekicks. Just as the game was heading towards the interval, Rangers levelled from the spot.
Amos wriggled his way into the area and was felled as he attempted to skip between a game, leading referee Andy Davies to award the penalty.
Skipper Johansen grabbed the ball and looked immediately for Austin, who was already waiting on the spot.
The R’s No.11 made no mistake, drilling the ball beyond O’Leary to level matters with virtually the last kick of the half.
QPR certainly looked brighter after the break, no doubt buoyed by that equaliser, and Adomah was at his creative best on the right.
And the R’s found themselves with a numerical advantage after 56 minutes when King, having already been booked, inexplicably prevented Johansen from launching a counterattack while still in his own half. King subsequently received his second yellow card of the night.
Warburton reacted, bringing on Dykes for Wallace after an hour with the defender still building up his match minutes following his recent lay off.
On 61 minutes, Johansen fired a ball across the face of goal and it fell invitingly for Amos but he was unable to connect with his volley from close range.
City certainly couldn’t be accused of parking the bus to protect the point. They continued to press forward and looked dangerous when they did.
Semenyo fired a brilliant ball across the QPR six-yard-box to underline that threat.
On 69 minutes, Adomah played a delightful ball for Dykes, but the Scotsman’s effort was deflected over the bar.
It was Dickie’s turn to put in an excellent delivery on 78 minutes from the right but Amos, after making a brilliant run, was unable to divert goalwards from eight yards.
Willock had a go on 84 minutes when he was afforded space on the left and cut in, but his shot deflected into the grateful arms of O’Leary.
For the final five minutes, Amos was replaced by George Thomas.
Field tried his luck from 20 yards on 87 minutes but it was comfortably gathered by the Robins stopper.
As the game moved into three minutes of injury time, it seemed QPR’s hopes of a victory were to be dashed, but the final say came from Barbet. And what a say it was!
His header was inch perfect and was only bettered by the scenes at the final whistle as the players and fans celebrated three vital points together.