Four-some Rangers Leave Birmingham Blue
18.02.17 - 15.00
QUEENS Park Rangers ran riot at St Andrews to keep their head above water in the scrap for safety in the Championship.
The score-line hardly flattered the visitors either, with QPR managing the game in a professional fashion before setting the seal on a dominant performance with a handful of late goals.
It could have been different had Emilio Nsue converted his close-range header while the score was still goal-less, but from then on in the game belonged to Rangers, cheered on by their 1500-strong support.
First Matt Smith found himself free from a corner to power a header beyond Tomas Kuszczak in the first half - the Blues' frailty at set-pieces was a long way from the drilled and disciplined Gary Rowett side of earlier this season.
Chances came and went for the visitors in a dominant first half - Smith seeing an effort cleared off the line before a header from the Birmingham-born forward drew a smart save from Kuszczak.
Another chance fell to Pawel Wszolek who should have done better from close range, while the follow up saw Luke Freeman's effort canon back off Conor Washington.
Jerome Sinclair's effort broke a period of dominance for the visitors but a deflection saw the ball clip the top of the bar - Smith was then up the other end with a toe poke straight at Kuszczak when well placed.
While the visitors were in the ascendency before the break it was QPR that doubled their lead for the afternoon when indecision in the Blues rearguard allowed Conor Washington to power home from close range.
It was breathing space for Rangers who were now managing the game well - allowing the home side possession before picking them off on the break, Freeman in particular a thorn in the side of the hosts.
When Smith left the field to a standing ovation, his replacement didn't need long to announce himself. When Rangers turned over possession, Wszolek curled in a fine cross for Idrissa Sylla to convert, stooping low to head home.
The visiting support were in delirium - but barely had time to catch their breath before the next stunning goal unfolded before their eyes. Yeni Ngbakoto crashing home a free-kick off the cross bar from 35-yards to gift-wrap a stunning three points to Queens Park Rangers.
In truth Kuszczak - voted minutes later as man of the match - saw the ball sail at pace over his head and could have done a great deal better.
Nsue book-ended proceedings nicely with his late strike beyond Smithies to stop the Rangers' keeper from celebrating his new contract with a clean sheet.
A complete performance from QPR who will take a lot of heart into their upcoming fixtures. Birmingham and Gianfranco Zola must now go back to the drawing board with the Italian manager under increasing pressure in the Second City.