Hosts give themselves a huge boost in their relegation battle with their first league win since November in entertaining game at Loftus Road
Goals from Heidur Helguson and Akos Buszaky put the home side two in front in a scintillating first half performance before Hugo Rodallega ensured a tight finish with half an hour to go. Tommy Smith then scored a wonder goal with 10 minutes left to give Hughes’ men all three points.
QPR showed three changes from Hughes’ first game in charge against Newcastle last weekend as Fitz Hall, captain Joey Barton and DJ Campbell earned recalls in place of Danny Gabbidon, Shaun Derry and Jay Bothroyd.
Wigan’s beleaguered coach Robert Martinez also made three changes as Steve Gohouri, Emmerson Boyce and Ben Watson replaced Antolin Alcaraz – who wasn’t even in the squad – Ronnie Stam and Albert Crusat.
Athletic went within inches of opening the scoring inside three minutes as Steve Gohouri got on the end of a Jordi Gomez free kick. Gomez’s ball was played in from the left and on his own on the six-yard line Gohouri skewed his right-footed volley wide of the far post with Hugo Rodallega lurking close by.
A bright start from QPR was almost rewarded as first a cross that swirled in the air from Luke Young was headed for the top corner before Ali Al-Habsi tipped it over the bar and then Campbell went close with a back header that the keeper stopped.
With the home side camped in the Wigan half, Campbell should have done better with a chance on the edge of the area after Jamie Mackie had capitalised on a Gohouri mistake.
As the first half went on it wasn’t hard to see why Wigan were bottom of the Premier League at the start of the day as they lacked any quality when on the ball. Akos Buzsaky almost broke the deadlock on the half hour mark with a moment of real quality though. He turned away from McCarthy 25 yards out and struck a vicious shot just wide of the far post.
The breakthrough that QPR deserved duly came in the 33rd minute from the penalty spot as top scorer Helguson slotted his ninth goal of the season after James McCarthy had inexplicably handballed in the area.
Hughes’ men then doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time with a magnificent free kick from Buzsaky. Campbell had done well to win the set piece from 25 yards out before the Hungarian international struck the ball with great whip and venom as the ball hit both posts before nestling in the back of the net.
Battling the drop | Wright-Phillips and Moses tangle as QPR prevail at Loftus Road
Martinez sent on Connor Sammon at half time in place of James McArthur as he tried to chase the game but it made little difference as Rangers continued to dominate and the visitors had little in the way of ideas.
Fresh from scoring his first ever goal in the Premier League Buszaky nearly doubled his tally with a wonderful volley from outside the area. Barton played the ball into him and flicked the ball up with his first touch and unleashed a fearsome volley that was headed for the top corner before Al-Habsi got across to save.
Against the run of play Rodallega scored a sublime free kick for just his second goal of the season. A soft foul was given away by Buzsaky on the edge of the area and under pressure the Colombian striker stepped up to stroke the ball into the top corner with keeper Paddy Kenny rooted to the spot.
The goal didn’t have the galvanising effect Wigan might have hoped for as QPR won a penalty with a little over 15 minutes left to play Gary Caldwell was harshly adjudged to have pulled down Helguson and the striker’s spot-kick was wonderfully saved by Al-Habsi, becoming the fourth player to have missed against the keeper this season.
Helguson nearly made up for the miss a couple of minutes later as a long ball over the top dropped nicely for him to volley with his left foot only to see it finish just inches wide.
However, substitute Smith made sure of all three points for Mark Hughes’ men as a ball inside from Wright-Phillips found the winger in plenty of space before he let fly from 25 yards to find the top corner and ensure the home fans left happy with Rangers given a much-needed boost in their battle against relegation.
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