QPR clinched a crucial 2-1 victory against fellow Premier League strugglers Southampton as Harry Redknapp made a victorious return to St Mary's.
Loic Remy stunned the home fans with an opening goal in the 14th minute that was very much against the run of play, but Gaston Ramirez levelled for Saints in first half stoppage time with a cute dinked finish from close range after Julio Cesar had spilled a shot from Jay Rodriguez.
Southampton continued to have the better of the play throughout the second half, but a tap in from Jay Bothroyd after doughty wing play from Ji-Sung Park down the right gave QPR the all-important three points – and only their second away league win all season.
Redknapp, who returned with a team to St Mary's for the first time since his ill-fated spell at Southampton in 2004/05 on his 66th birthday, was jubilant at the full-time whistle as his side claimed the first of the six wins he has targeted from their last 11 games in their desperate bid to secure safety.
He made four changes to his QPR side as Remy, Park, Bothroyd and Junior Hoilett came in. Southampton also made four alterations with Jose Fonte, Danny Fox, Jason Puncheon and Ramirez brought in.
The beleaguered Rangers have only won once away from home so far this season, and they barely saw the ball early on as Southampton enjoyed almost 70 per cent of the possession in the first 20 minutes and dominated the play.
The home side were convinced that they should have been awarded a penalty as early as the 11th minute as Jason Puncheon felt that he was tripped by Jose Bosingwa as he burst into the box, but referee Howard Webb dismissed the appeals disdainfully.
But despite all their possession, Southampton fell behind as the ebullient Remy latched on to a long ball and held his composure to finish beyond Artur Boruc from a tight angle with Jose Fonte unable to clear off the line. It was only QPR’s fifth goal in their last 11 league games.
The first half proceeded to be dominated by Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who pressed incessantly and kept the ball effectively, but they were left to bemoan their luck when captain and playmaker Adam Lallana had to be taken off, suffering from concussion after a clash with Clint Hill.
Southampton were level in first half stoppage time as Redknapp’s team talk was suddenly made far more difficult, courtesy of a sublime chipped finish from Ramirez, who raced in to punish Cesar for a parried save from substitute Rodriguez’s initial shot from the edge of the box.
Morgan Schneiderlin was denied a clear shot on goal inside the QPR box as Christopher Samba stepped with a crucial interception, and it followed a quite stunning series of quick passes between four Southampton players on the edge of the penalty area.
Despite constant pressure from Southampton, the visitors moved back in front in the 77th minute as Bothroyd tapped in from close range, and it was all thanks to Park, who scurried down the right and picked out the pass perfectly. It was the forward’s first league goal since November 2011.
Cesar, who was a liability for nearly 10 minutes after pulling his hamstring early in the second half, was almost caught out again as he parried another shot from Rodriguez, but this time Schneiderlin was unable to race in and meet the follow up.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was eventually replaced by Rob Green, and the England international made a crucial reflex save with five minutes left to deny Maya Yoshida, who began to celebrate as his powerful header from a corner looked to be headed towards the back of the net.
It proved to be a vital stop from Green as QPR held out through six nerve-racking minutes of second half stoppage time to seal a hugely important win, which sees them close the gap on second-bottom Reading to three points, while Southampton remain three points clear of the bottom three.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ji-Sung Park – QPR: It was the boundless energy and pressing from Park that inspired his side to victory, with his inspired assist providing the winning goal for Jay Bothroyd five minutes from time.
Southampton: Boruc 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 7, Yoshida 6, Fox 6, Puncheon 6, Cork 7, Schneiderlin 6, Lallana 6, Ramirez 7, Lambert 6. Subs: Shaw 6, Rodriguez 7, Ward-Prowse 6.
QPR: Cesar 6, Traore 6, Samba 7, Hill 7, Bosingwa 6, Granero 5, Park 8, Hoilett 6, Bothroyd 6, Mbia 7, Remy 7. Subs: Green 7, Jenas 6, Fabio 6.