Rangers' first victory in 10 attempts takes them out of the relegation zone and leaves the Latics three points from safety after failing to win for the sixth game in a row
A penalty from Heidur Helguson and an Akos Buszaky strike put the home side two goals 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 ten minutes left to guarantee Hughes’ men all three points. Helguson missed another penalty on the other side of the break as the home side could and perhaps should have scored more, such was their dominance throughout the game.
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 capitalized on a Gohouri mistake.
As the first half went on it wasn’t hard to see why Wigan was bottom of the Premier League at the start of the day as it 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 James 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 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.
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 free kick was given away by Buszaky on the edge of the area and the under pressure 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 galvanizing effect Wigan might have hoped for as QPR won a penalty in the 74th minute. 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.
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 winning for the first time in ten attempts.