QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was proud in defeat, as Rangers bowed out of the EFL Cup to Premier League Sunderland at Loftus Road.
Sandro handed Rangers the lead on the hour with a well-struck shot from the edge of the box, only for Paddy McNair to score twice – on 70 and 80 minutes – to send the visitors through to the fourth round.
“I'm proud of my players tonight,” Hasselbaink told www.qpr.co.uk, “It was a much-improved performance.
“I don't like losing but if we are to lose to Premier League opposition, that was the way to do it, if you understand what I'm saying.
“If we are going to lose, it needs to be like this. With a gritty, hungry, honest and hardworking display.
“We showed that we are a good team tonight I thought. I'm proud of how we conducted ourselves. We were almost there tonight and I take a lot of positives out of the game, and not so many negatives.”
He added: “Sunderland came with a very strong team and they showed Premier League quality late on.
“We knew a couple might run out of steam on 75 minutes and that proved to be the case.”
Hasselbaink handed a full debut to left-back Niko Hamalainen, whilst fellow Academy graduate Osman Kakay also started, for only the second time.
The R’s gaffer was full of praise for the duo, adding: “We believe in both Osman and Niko and I thought they were magnificent for 75 minutes.
“A little bit of tiredness kicked in late on but I couldn't be more proud of them.
“They showed tonight that they not only have great potential, but that they can cope when they are called on now.
“I am sure the fans are pleased to see two young Academy players come through and show what they can do.”
On goalscorer Sandro, who scored his first goal in the competition this season in only his second start, Hasselbaink added: “Sandro showed his quality with his goal.
“He's still here and he’s still our player and he is pushing himself for a starting position.
“He ran out of steam because he hasn't got enough games under his belt. He is nearing the fitness levels and the intensity we expect.
“He did very well. I'm happy with his performance.
“I asked him and the rest of the the players to give me selection problems for Saturday and that's what they did tonight.”
Next up for QPR is a home fixture against Birmingham City in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday and Hasselbaink added: “Yes, it’s three defeats in a row in all competitions but there needs to be perspective here, because we aren’t panicking.
“We are in transition as a club and we are a work in progress.
“Our performance tonight showed we aren’t panicking.
“We are all working hard to get to where we want to be. We are still improving and we will be competitive, I’ve no doubt about that.”