MASSIMO Luongo turned in a typically-impressive performance during QPR’s 2-2 draw with Millwall on Tuesday night, and capped his display with his first goal of the season.
The Australian’s edge-of-the-box strike proved to be a catalyst for the R’s as they came back from two-goals down to claim a much-deserved share of the spoils.
After falling behind to Conor McLaughlin’s sixth-minute opener Rangers saw Millwall reduced to ten men before half-time when Lee Gregory was sent off. But the Lions doubled their lead shortly after the restart through Jed Wallace.
With visiting keeper Jordan Archer in inspired form between the sticks, it was going to take something special to beat him – and Luongo duly obliged on 73 minutes.
“It’s such a relief to score,” he told www.qpr.co.uk.
“I waited so long for my first one last year so I’m just happy to get it under my belt. It comes from confidence - and the boys helped.
“When the team is playing well it’s a lot easier to get some shots off and to look good. I have been criticised throughout my career for not getting enough goals so hopefully that’s the first of many.”
Matt Smith netted the equaliser with five minutes remaining, but Luongo admitted there was still a sense of disappointment after the game that Rangers hadn’t taken all three points.
“It was frustrating in the first half because we weren’t ourselves,” he said. “Things weren’t falling for us and they were what we expected them to be – they were tough to play against and weren’t giving us a yard.
“We had to grind it out.
“But the comeback was unreal and the boys were saying afterwards that a year ago we would have lost that game. But the character is building and the boys are all helping to get more out of one another.”
Despite falling two behind in the second period, QPR displayed a calmness in their approach as they looked to get themselves back into the game and Luongo believes that came from having confidence in the quality of the squad.
“There was plenty of time left and I don’t think any of us hid or felt we couldn’t still get something from the game,” he added.
“People might expect us to just go long and look for the knock-downs but we’re not about that. With our midfield, our wide boys and our full-backs, we’ve got so much in our locker so we can’t miss them out.
“When the game opens up and we’ve got so much space, we always felt we could find half a yard, or Freesy (Luke Freeman) can create something, or Pav (Wszolek) can beat his man, or Kaz (LuaLua) comes on and he can do the same.
“We’ve got so much in our locker so it’s good that we’re not resorting to getting it in the box and just hitting and hoping.”
Ian Holloway now takes his side to a team many have tipped for an automatic promotion spot since the start of the campaign.
Big-spending Middlesbrough currently sit one place above the R’s and will be looking to extend their unbeaten run at home to five games in all competitions when they host QPR this weekend.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the winner against Millwall because we all felt we could have got it but we have momentum with us heading into Middlesbrough,” Luongo added.
“We are looking good, and we look like we will always have a chance against whoever we play against.
“We will need grit and toughness up there on Saturday and I’m really excited about it already.”