Victory: Made in January
QUEENS Park Rangers came from behind to secure back to back top flight victories for the first time since 1995.
Steven Fletcher put visitors Sunderland in front when he diverted an Adam Johnson effort home after a defensive lapse from the hosts.
Rangers responded quickly, after one of many enterprising runs from Andros Townsend his resultant shot deflected into the path of Loïc Remy, who finished with effortless composure.
Harry Redknapp's January dealing bore the required fruits when the aforementioned Townsend slammed home a stunning effort to hand Rangers the lead.
Jermaine Jenas came off the bench to display some excellent technique in rifling the ball beyond the forlorn Simon Mignolet, a priceless victory made in January.
Harry Redknapp named four changes from the side that beat Sunderland, with a shift to a 4-4-2 formation and an attack-minded set up. Julio Cesar, Armand Traoré, Esteban Granero and Jay Bothroyd dropping out; Rob Green, Fabio da Silva, Andros Townsend and Bobby Zamora coming in.
Green started behind a back four of Jose Bosingwa, Clint Hill, Christopher Samba and Fabio. The midfield quartet consisted of Townsend, Stephane Mbia, Park Ji Sung and Junior Hoilett with Zamora partnering Loïc Remy in attack.
Sunderland named an unchanged side from the team that hauled back a two goal advantage to draw 2-2 at home to Fulham.
Simon Mignolet started with Craig Gardner, Titus Bramble, John O'Shea and Jack Colback the back four. Stephane Sessegnson, Alfred N'Diaye, Sebastien Larsson and Adam Johnson started across midfield with Danny Graham partnering Steven Fletcher.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v SUNDERLAND
A victory at Southampton was a shot in the arm for a Queens Park Rangers side that was truly on the cusp of imploding on their way back to the Championship. A victory sparked new hope of survival as they searched for those elusive back to back victories.
Sunderland meanwhile have seen patchy form leave them hanging precariously near relegation territory. Recent poor form has done little to quell the problems at the Stadium of Light as the Mackems look to get back on track.
An attack minded QPR were on the back foot from the off and had to look to their new found defensive confidence to hold the scores level. For all the early pressure that Black Cats no chances of genuine note could be engineered - cue QPR's attacking flair.
Andros Townsend and Junior Hoilett started to torment their respective full backs, despite being on opposite flanks than previously expected. Hoilett's turn and run inside culminated in a wayward effort inside five minutes.
Latterly Townsend chanced his arm when a mazy run down the right saw him also come inside his marker and curl an effort over Simon Mignolet and unfortunately clearing the cross bar - positive signs however as Rangers worked their way into the clash.
Rangers were putting considerable pressure on Sunderland when possession did not lay with the hosts, and it was paying dividends as the Black Cats struggled to find their passes, particularly speculative ones, as the half wore on.
From very little the visitors found their way in front, and it was a defensive lapse that cost QPR dear. Sessegnon found space down the right flank before clipping a far post cross for both STEVEN FLETCHER
and Adam Johnson. The wide-man chanced his arm by firing back across goal only for experienced forward Fletcher to divert home from close range.
While Sunderland looked positive early on, the goal came against the run of play and Martin O'Neil reverted to a more negative style of play, with the direct view of keeping matters the same as long as possible.
The fact of the matter is that this approach invited some of Rangers more brighter talents to the fore. Townsend in particular was enjoying being pushed inside onto his stronger foot and getting a great deal of joy off makeshift full-back Jack Colback.
His run down the left once again bested the left-back and his resultant drive deflected fortuitously into the path of LOÏC REMY
who was composure personified to roll neatly beyond Mignolet and into the bottom left hand corner.
Stephane Mbia was all-action as always and his desire to get into the thick of things saw him latch onto a Zamora knock down to comically sky the ball into the Sunderland supporters that populated the upper School End.
He went one better later on in the half when hitting a rasping low drive that tested Mignolet, the Belgian having to collect the ball at the second attempt. Rangers were looking more likely as Sunderland looked to close out the half.
The hosts had the bit between their teeth and a succession of balls wide to Townsend and Hoilett didn't perhaps yield the required results as Zamora and Remy didn't truly get their desired centres to truly test the Sunderland rearguard.
Referee Mike Jones drew a close to a half that while not ultimately enthralling, set the fixture up nicely for a second half that could serve to define Rangers aspirations of remaining in the Premier League.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-1 SUNDERLAND
Sunderland started impressively once more with O'Neil evidently firing up his charges for a positive second period. Johnson's characteristic cut inside saw him culminate a flowing move by firing wide.
These moves were few and far between with O'Neil preferring a direct style of play, with quick wide-men and large forwards at the forefront of his philosophy for many years. He opted to shift things tactically by bringing on Danny Rose at left-back at the expense of Danny Graham.
This prompted Sessegnon to push forward in support of Fletcher, while Colback reverted to his familiar central midfield berth. His midfield partner, N'Diaye ran out of never ending warnings and was cautioned on the hour mark.
Rangers then started to turn the screw with Townsend once again being shown inside on the counter-attack. His resultant shot was destined for the left-hand corner before being deflected away by John O'Shea.
The home side's continual pressure started to open crack's in the Mackem's rearguard. Bosingwa's corner was unconvincingly punched by Mignolet, under pressure from Zamora, Hoilett then helped the ball back into the area hopefully.
Only half-cleared, ANDROS TOWNSEND
took the ball down before firing a looping volley over the rooted Mignolet and into the left-hand corner. A goal that oozed class as the Tottenham loaned rounded off a fine game with a strike of genuine quality.
Changes galore for both sides prompted a lull in play, as Jamie Mackie, Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Wright-Phillips came on for Rangers for Zamora, Remy and Hoilett, while Sunderland introduced David Vaughan and Phil Bardsley at the expense of Colback and N'Diaye.
Despite looking more adventurous in their approach, Sunderland hardly threatened the QPR target since the first half. In truth it seemed an age away as QPR pressed more in search of a decisive third goal that would surely settle the encounter.
It came in emphatic fashion with a minute remaining. Wright-Phillips seemed more sprightly down the right when he clipped a cross that Townsend managed to engineer to JERMAINE JENAS
- the Rs midfielder did the rest, firing a crisp volley into the bottom right-hand corner to settle the game as a contest.
Rangers then coasted to the game's conclusion with the industrious duo Park and Mackie rather serving to display the qualities of hard work and seeing the game to its conclusion to ahem the hosts a vital three points.
Back to back victories in the top flight for the first time since 1995 and with nine games remaining and points to play for Rangers can now look hopefully into the coming tests with a view to achieving something that was previously thought impossible.
FINAL WHISTLE: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 3-1 SUNDERLAND
Rob Green, Jose Bosingwa, Clint Hill, Christopher Samba, Fabio da Silva, Andros Townsend, Stephane Mbia, Park Ji Sung, Junior Hoilett (Shaun Wright-Phillips 78), Bobby Zamora (Jamie Mackie 73), Loïc Remy (Jermaine Jenas 80).
Simon Mignolet, Craig Gardner, John O'Shea, Titus Bramble, Jack Colback (Phil Bardsley 81), Stephane Sessegnon, Sebastien Larsson, Alfred N'Diaye (David Vaughan 77), Adam Johnson, Danny Graham (Danny Rose 57), Steven Fletcher.
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