Junior Hoilett's opener is not enough to secure the three points for Mark Hughes' men as the Toffees rally to claim a point thanks to an unfortunate Julio Cesar blunderIf there were any worries that QPR's ramshackle collection of free transfers and so-called mercenaries were longing for the post-Mark Hughes era - pining for Harry Redknapp, perhaps - they evaporated in a pulsating game at Loftus Road in which the points were shared with Everton in a 1-1 draw.
The hosts were full of commitment and attacking verve, largely inspired by the enigmatic Adel Taarabt and the mercurial Esteban Granero in a first half that simply overwhelmed a strangely flat Everton.
If this was a sign of an impending life without Marouane Fellaini, who missed the game through injury, David Moyes will need all his transfer market acumen to pick up a suitable replacement. However, before Samba Diakite, Park Ji-Sung, Taarabt and Granero found their groove and imposed their game, Hughes' side had the lead.
With two attack-minded line-ups on display, QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar was an unlikely provider for the opener. The Brazilian punched a corner clear in the opening moments, sparking a counterattack led by Junior Hoilett. The Canadian carried the ball under pressure over the halfway line and used Taarabt's intelligent dummy run to find space before hitting a decent shot from 20 yards that was deflected past Tim Howard by Leighton Baines.
Minutes later, Howard's slip allowed Hoilett to pressure him into a poor clearance and, after some neat interplay on the edge of the box, the visitors were unlucky not to double their lead as a back-post cross sailed just out of reach.
Everton responded with a Nikica Jelavic free kick but Cesar was more than equal to it, turning it wide. Though Granero and Co. found a rhythm sorely missed under Hughes this season, QPR were undone after a major lapse in concentration.
A deep Steven Pienaar free kick should be routine for a defence containing Ryan Nelsen and Stephane Mbia but inexplicably, Sylvain Distin found himself unmarked just yards out. His low header at the far post rebounded back into play and went in off Cesar in an unfortunate twist to a solid 45 minutes.
It nearly got worse for the hosts as firstly the imposing Mbia tangled with Jelavic in the box before Phil Jagielka powered a free header onto the crossbar. QPR might have had the better of the half but Moyes went into the break aggrieved that his side did not hold the lead.
Park almost connected with Diakite's centre after a lung busting run, only to see his prod denied by a superb lunging block from Jagielka before two key incidents turned the game on its head. The unusually subdued Pienaar collected a pair of bookings in 10 minutes for tackles that looked relatively innocuous.
With the onus on QPR, still chasing their first Premier League victory, Hughes introduced Djibril Cisse for the frustrating Bobby Zamora but not before Cesar denied Jagielka with a point-blank save and Mbia deflected Kevin Mirallas' goal-bound effort over the bar.
On 80 minutes, the hosts appeared to be denied a stonewall penalty when Seamus Coleman's loose touch led to him tripping Hoilett but referee Jon Moss waved play on. The drama increased, Hoilett drew a splendid save from the Everton keeper before Cisse fired wide.
It was not the three points that Hughes and QPR desired but the signs were promising, whereas Everton will feel proud to come away with a result after Pienaar's dismissal.