QUEENS Park Rangers kicked off their pre-season campaign in emphatic style courtesy of 4-2 victory over Premier League side Manchester United, in front of a vocal Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
A double from Lyndon Dykes and strikes from Charlie Austin and trialist Moses Odubajo wrapped a memorable afternoon in W12.
An already-excited Rangers crowd were able to enjoy some further pre-match delight with the announcement of Stefan Johansen, who was shown to the returning R's faithful prior to kick-off, following his permanent switch from Fulham.
However, Manchester United took the lead in the third minute, with Jesse Lingard able to slot home past a helpless Seny Dieng.
After going behind Mark Warburton’s side looked for an instant response, with Ilias Chair seeing his wide free-kick eventually cleared from danger.
As we approached the seventh minute, Rangers were level. A fine interchanging move between Chris Willock and Lee Wallace saw the Scottish full-back eventually pick out Austin, who calmly headed home to make it 1-1.
After the electric start made by both sides, the tempo of the game finally started to slow down, with the R’s able to maintain possession of the ball for large periods at a time.
However, this didn’t deter Rangers’ attacking threat, with captain Wallace down the left-hand side continuing to cause danger.
The 33-year-old broke down the wing before squaring the ball across the six-yard box, only for Brandon Williams to scramble the ball away at the far post.
In the 37th minute, Rangers found themselves with a free-kick in a dangerous area which Moroccan international Chair swung in, finding our first summer arrival Jordy de Wijs at the far post, but United stop-stopper Tom Heaton was able to calmly collect the ball and the chance had gone.
For the first time since their opening goal, United then found themselves on the counter attack, with Mason Greenwood and Lingard at the forefront of the action.
However, as England international Lingard was about to pull the trigger, last season’s player of the year Rob Dickie was on hand to slide the ball away.
With the half-time whistle looming the R’s continued to maintain possession of the ball, but as referee Gavin Ward blew for the break, it remained all-square.
At the interval, Rangers made a number of changes with Austin, de Wijs and Seny Dieng being replaced by Dykes, Jimmy Dunne and Joe Walsh.
The second half started in the same tempo as the first, with both sides threatening.
First of all, Willock broke into the United box, but Arron Wan Bissaka was able to clear the danger with a last-ditch tackle, before substitute Joe Walsh was instantly called into action, with the R’s custodian able to get the ball before Anthony Elanga.
Rangers were then ahead come the 52nd minute.
Another fine move involving Wallace saw the former Glasgow Rangers man eventually picking out Dykes, who smashed the ball home - 2-1!
Andreas Periera was then quick to sting the palms of Walsh, but the young 'keeper stood firm.
And with 58 minutes on the clock, Odubajo produced the moment of the game. A fine left-footed strike from the edge of the box rocketed past a helpless Lee Grant, making it 3-1.
AND THEN IT WAS FOUR!
Fresh off the back of his appearance at the European Championships, Dykes added yet another R's goal, with a fine left-footed effort curling into the bottom corner.
Rangers were then quick to make changes with Barbet, Dickie, Wallace, Willock, Odubajo and Chair all being replaced by Albert Adomah, Charlie Kelman, George Thomas, Conor Masterson, Sam McCallum and Osman Kakay respectively.
Warburton’s side continued to shine, with some fantastic free-flowing football on display in W12.
Dykes was then unlucky not to head home his third of the afternoon - but Elanga was able to curl the ball home, pulling one back for our visitors and ensuring a somewhat exciting end to the friendly.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Warburton replaced Andre Dozzell and Dominic Ball, with youngsters Faysal Bettache and Stephen Duke-Mckenna aiming to inject some energy into a tiring QPR midfield and this almost instantly paid dividends, with Grant having to be on hand to palm away Thomas’ effort.
The only moment of confusion in the R’s box arrived in the 81st minute, but a fine double save from Walsh denied the Reds and Rangers grew in confidence.
With the clock finally starting to tick down, the Super Hoops picked up their passing game once again, with the ball eventually finding substitute Kelman at the far post, but his effort was straight at Grant.
Bettache went close in the dying minutes, with a fine driving run and shot which was eventually blocked. Referee Gavin Ward then blew his whistle for the final time as a vocal Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium were able to celebrate a win for the first time here since February 2020 - and what a win it was.
QPR: Dieng (Walsh 45’), Wallace (McCallum 61’), Dickie (Masterson 61’), De Wijs (Dunne 45’), Barbet (Kakay 61’), Willock (Thomas 61’), Chair (Kelman 61’), Austin (Dykes 45’), Ball (Duke-McKenna 75’), Dozzell (Bettache 75’), Adubajo (Adomah 61’).