Adel Taarabt stole the show as Queens Park Rangers picked up their first win of the season with a 2-1 win over a poor Fulham side at Loftus Road.
Harry Redknapp's side would have become the first top flight team in 110 years to fail to win any of their opening 17th matches if they did not secure the three points, but they were fully deserving of the victory against their West London rivals.
Taarabt scored both of their goals in the second half – the first was courtesy of a huge deflection off Brede Hangeland but the second was a truly sublime finish with the outside of the right boot from the edge of the area.
Substitute Mladen Petric got one back for a previously flat Fulham side in the 88th minute to ensure a nervy finale before the referee finally blew up after over four minutes of stoppage time.
QPR move off the bottom with the victory while Fulham remain 13th after a terrible performance that is unlikely to have impressed manager Martin Jol.
QPR got off to a great start and had three chances to open the scoring in the first 10 minutes.
After two minutes, Taarabt slipped a lovely ball in behind the defence and Djibril Cisse outmuscled Aaron Hughes to run through. The Northern Irish defender kept the pressure on though and Mark Schwarzer was able to save Cisse's low shot that lacked power.
That was a good chance but four minutes later Rangers really seemed to be handed a gift when John-Arne Riise made a mess of a backpass, leaving Jamie Mackie clean through in the box but he somehow managed to put his shot wide.
Taarabt then curled a shot from the edge of the area towards the bottom corner in the eighth minute that Schwarzer saved, but the rest of the half quickly degenerated into a putrid contest with both sides consistently giving the ball away cheaply.
A rare incident of note came when Stephane Mbia seemed to head onto his own arm inside the Rangers box but he got away with it.
The second half started in similarly uninspired fashion until luck finally smiled on QPR in the 52th minute.
Alejandro Faurlin found Taarabt in space, and the Moroccan midfielder then ran forward before firing a tame looking shot towards goal. However it took a huge deflection off Hangleand, which wrong-footed Schwarzer and saw the ball trickle into the net.
Taarabt also needed a slice of luck for the second in the 68th minute, again off Hangleand, as a ricochet off the big Norwegian allowed him to continue a run forward, but there was nothing fortuitous about his sublime finish from the edge of the area.
The Moroccan maestro dragged the ball into position superbly before delightfully steering a curled low shot into the corner of the net with the outside of his right foot to the delight of the home fans, who had previously seen only five goals at Loftus Road this season.
Redknapp has already started lobbying Taarabt to forgo the African Cup of Nations, and there is no doubt he will be having another word in his ear after this inspired performance.
Fulham's response to the two goals was poor: midfielders Steve Sidwell and Chris Baird were finding life particularly tough as they seemed to commit as many fouls as successful passes, while Dimitar Berbatov was given little opportunity to show his class up front.
They did get a lifeline in the 88th minute when Petric's shot from just outside the area clipped Faurlin and looped into the corner of the net, putting Loftus Road into an unnecessary state of tension.
Tactics went out the window for the four minutes plus of injury time as Fulham launched long balls into the QPR half in the hope of a break, but for once the Gods were smiling on QPR, and despite some nervy moments they hung on for a thoroughly deserved three points.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Adel Taarabt (QPR): The outstanding player on the pitch. It is not an overstatement to suggest that QPR's survival chances could come down to persuading him to skip the African Cup of Nations.
QPR: Green 6, Traore 7, Nelsen 7, Hill 7, Onuoha 7, Wright-Phillips 6, Faurlin 7, Mbia 6, Taarabt 9, Mackie 6, Cisse 7. Subs: Ferdinand N/A, Fabio N/A.
FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Riether 7, Hughes 6, Hangeland 6, Riise 5, Duff 5, Baird 4, Sidwell 5, Richardson 5, Berbatov 6, Rodallega 6. Subs: Kelly 6, Petric 6, Dejagah 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Adel Taarabt
- Queens Park Rangers