Charlie Austin gave Queens Park Rangers a vital victory as they edged out Leicester City 3-2 at Loftus Road to move off the foot of the Barclays Premier League table.
The in-form forward was on hand to force home the winner with a close-range header in the 73rd minute, his seventh league goal of the season sending Leicester to the bottom of the table. Austin's goal came just six minutes after Jeffrey Schlupp had pulled Leicester level, and lifted QPR above both their opponents and Burnley.
Esteban Cambiasso's second goal in Leicester colours had given Nigel Pearson's men the lead four minutes into a fast-paced first half, but QPR turned it around to go in ahead at the interval. Leroy Fer found the net with a close-range half volley in the dying moments of the opening period, after the hosts had levelled in the 37th minute through Wes Morgan's own goal. The visitors rallied well in the second period and equalised through Schlupp's strike from just outside the penalty area, but Harry Redknapp's side soon regained the advantage and held on for a third triumph of the season.
Leicester have endured a poor run of form in recent weeks, going seven matches without a win before this fixture, but made an encouraging start when Cambiasso scored their first goal since early October. The Argentinian midfielder reacted quickest to a loose ball on the edge of the box and placed a sublime finish in off Robert Green's right post after Schlupp and Leonardo Ulloa had combined well down the left.
QPR responded well to the early blow, with both Niko Krancjar and Karl Henry going close, while the returning Chilean duo of Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas caused havoc on the right.
But the hosts, who have the league's worst defensive record, were always susceptible to Leicester's swift counter-attacks and would have been two down if not for Steven Caulker's timely interception which denied Riyad Mahrez.
QPR could have been level when Henry broke through the visitors' defence, but the midfielder's hesitation allowed Leicester to clear. However, Leicester captain Morgan put through his own net, under pressure from QPR top-scorer Austin, after Caulker had broken down the left and prodded a low cross into the six-yard box.
Leicester almost retook the lead a minute later when Jamie Vardy's powerful effort was parried away by Green, but it was Redknapp's side who went in ahead at half-time thanks to Fer's first goal for the club. The midfielder was in the perfect position to power in a rebound after Austin's header had been well saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
Leicester responded well after the restart, and were unlucky not to equalise when Vardy's glancing header clipped off the top of the bar. They grabbed their equaliser after 67 minutes when Schlupp flicked up the ball on the edge of the box before drilling home a superb half-volley.
The sides were not level for long, though, as Austin nodded in after Leicester failed to clear a scrappy set-piece. Matty James saw an effort sail inches over the bar amid late Leicester pressure, but QPR held firm to secure a valuable three points.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson: "There are lots of positives, but it remains frustrating for us, all the more so when we've had a go. We deservedly took the lead and then lost poor goals."
"We created enough chances to win multiple games today. We threatened and were a bit unlucky, but the players are frustrated.
"You don't get many midweek games in the Premier League, but this week we go again quickly. The reality is we must get better results.
"We don't want to be bottom, but that's where we are, it's a tough division. We've got to make things happen for ourselves."
QPR manager Harry Redknapp: "It was a great game. They scored the early goal and we came back at them strong. They were a threat with Jamie Vardy but we played as well as we have all season.
"We showed a lot of character today and played really well in the first half. It was all hands to the pump late on in the second half but a great win for us.
"We are scoring goals which is good but we defended well today when we had to. That win has put us right back into the pack but we have Swansea and Burnley coming up, every game is vital."
|15 Dec 2014||v Everton (A)|
|20 Dec 2014||v West Brom (H)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Burnley (H)|
|02 Dec 2014||v Swansea (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Arsenal (A)|
|28 Dec 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|