TEN-MAN Rangers kept up their excellent start to the season after securing a 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
In a breathless encounter in the North East, QPR trailed at half-time following Uche Ikpeazu’s early penalty.
However, the Super Hoops would find the net three times after the interval to take as many points back to west London.
Jonny Howson’s 48th-minute own goal gave Rangers a helping hand and, despite having Moses Odubajo sent off for a second booking shortly after, Lyndon Dykes added an R’s second on 56 minutes.
Hosts Boro equalised through Matt Crooks in the 72nd minute but it would be the visitors’ night, with the impressive Chris Willock’s 76th-minute strike the deciding goal.
Incredibly, this was the first time that the R’s had strung five away league wins in a row together since 1927 – and how!
Following Saturday’s impressive 3-0 victory at Hull City, R’s boss Mark Warburton unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting XI for the trip to Teesside.
There was a welcome addition to the bench, too, with Charlie Austin returning from the knee injury sustained on the opening day versus Millwall.
Both sides went into this game having picked up four points from a possible six at the start of the season and, as a result, this had the makings of an entertaining Championship fixture.
There was certainly a frantic opening.
Unfortunately for Rangers, they trailed inside 10 minutes.
Boro sent the R’s a warning shot in the fifth minute when Howson struck the post, before Crooks sent the rebound wide.
However, the home side would lead come the seventh minute.
Dykes was penalised for a shirt pull on Dael Fry in the box and, when Ikpeazu stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick, he sent Seny Dieng the wrong way from 12 yards.
Far from the ideal start for Rangers but they were so nearly on terms come the 12th minute following a nice interchange between Willock and Lee Wallace, but Dykes couldn’t get enough power on his effort to trouble former R’s man Joe Lumley in the Boro goal.
Rangers appeared undeterred by conceding the opening goal but, despite having the lion’s share of possession for the remainder of the first half, struggled to work any clear-cut goalscoring chances.
Ilias Chair’s fierce 20-yard drive forced Lumley into a smart block on 32 minutes, but no more than that.
The R’s were loose in possession on occasion as half-time approached, too, and Ikpeazu probably should have done better to work Dieng after Boro caught out Rangers on the break. Thankfully, the deficit remained at just a single goal going into the break.
Rangers may have struggled to create openings in the first half but, just three minutes into the closing period, levelled matters.
The visitors worked the ball out to Wallace on the left-hand channel and, when the defender sent over a low cross, Howson nipped in front of the waiting Dykes to turn the ball into his own net.
Lift-off for the R’s – but if they were to get a result it would be the hard way after Odubajo was shown a red card for a second bookable offence in the 50th minute.
It looked a mightily-harsh decision after Isiah Jones went down following the tiniest of touches, but nonetheless Moses trudged off after being given his marching orders.
Remarkably, Rangers took the lead come the 56th minute.
It was a beautifully-worked goal that put the R’s ahead – Willock chipping the ball over the top of the home defence before Dykes’ blast, with all of its pace and power, was too hot for Lumley to handle as the ball flew in through his legs.
It will come as little surprise that QPR – a man light – appeared content to hold onto their lead heading into the final half-hour.
Rangers also looked dangerous on the counter attack, particularly through Willock – and Austin was introduced in the 67th minute when Dykes picked up a knock.
Boro would restore parity in the 72nd minute, though.
Dom Ball was caught in possession close to his own penalty area and, when Crooks eventually picked up the ball on 16 yards, he hammered the ball into the top left-hand corner.
Suddenly, an impatient Middlesbrough crowd were now buoyant but they were soon silenced once more – as the outstanding Willock slid Rangers back into the lead.
Stefan Johansen’s clever pass found Willock in the box and, when he cut onto his left foot, the former Benfica man curled the ball into the bottom corner.
This was incredible stuff from the 10 men of QPR and Willock probably should have put the game to bed when slipped through on goal by Austin, shooting straight at Lumley.
Instead, a nervy final 10 minutes awaited.
Dieng was forced into a smart reaction stop to keep out Djed Spence eight minutes from time, following a ball in from the left flank.
Rangers then brought on Jimmy Dunne for the final four minutes, replacing Wallace.
Some 10 added minutes were signaled at the death and, just before the 90th minute, Crooks threatened when he headed marginally over for Boro.
However, the R’s would subsequently hang on for all three points - defending doggedly to protect their lead until the very end.