Southampton piled more pressure on winless Queens Park Rangers with a deserved 3-1 victory at Loftus Road.
The result keeps QPR rock bottom with Southampton rewarded for a vibrant attacking display in west London.
Rickie Lambert put the Saints ahead from close range and Jason Puncheon doubled the lead moments before half-time with a well struck effort from the edge of the area.
Junior Hoilett reduced the arrears after the break, but Southampton took over and Anton Ferdinand’s late own goal put the result beyond doubt.
QPR owner Tony Fernandes has stated that manager Mark Hughes has his full backing but the jeers which rung around Loftus Road suggested that many Hoops fans are losing patience with the Welsh manager.
The two sides named unchanged line-ups. Djibril Cisse led the attack for QPR, with Esteban Granero, Adel Taarabt and Hoilett providing the support in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Southampton opted for the same formation, as Lambert led the line, with Adam Lallana, Gaston Ramirez and Puncheon charged with providing the creativity in midfield.
Puncheon hit the post early on with an inviting cross which eluded Lallana and the scrambling Julio Cesar in the QPR goal.
Taarabt was one of the few shining lights for QPR in the first-half, and the Moroccan produced a terrific piece of trickery to evade two players before firing straight at Paulo Gazzaniga at the near post.
Gazzaniga was looking nervy in the Southampton goal and made a mess of pushing a Hoilett shot around the post, before flapping at the resulting corner.
The Saints took a deserved lead when QPR failed to clear their lines, with Puncheon’s shot blocked on the line by Jose Bosingwa, and Lambert was on hand to convert from close range.
QPR continued to look disjointed, the likes of Hoilett and Granero largely anonymous in their wide positions.
Southampton, who had won just one Premier League fixture themselves, continued to carry the more sustained attacking threat, and it was little surprise when they took a 2-0 lead just before the break.
Some lax defended from Armand Traore helped Nathaniel Clyne to win the ball wide on the right and the former Crystal Palace defender found Puncheon who curled a superb left-footed shot beyond the outstretched arms of Julio Cesar and into the bottom corner.
The half-time whistle was met with boos from the home support who had seen their side outplayed by a team without an away point all season.
The half-time introduction of Jackie Mackie in place of Alejandro Faurlin appeared to temporarily spur QPR who came out of the blocks quickly and began to look a potent attacking threat themselves.
They halved the deficit when the shaky Gazzaniga failed to deal with Taarabt’s cross from the left and Hoilett was on hand to notch a rare header from close range.
Southampton soon regained their composure and went on to dominate the last half-an-hour.
Adkins’s side were, at times, a delight to watch with some fine interchanges and direct running causing the QPR defence all manner of problems. Lallana and Puncheon were at the heart of most of Southampton’s good play, with Lambert making a nuisance of himself up-front.
It was last season’s top scorer Lambert who nodded the ball down for Puncheon at the back post but the winger directed his shot into the ground and just wide of Julio Cesar’s goal.
Puncheon then went close with an explosive long range effort which flew just wide as Southampton continued to look the more cohesive unit.
Cisse briefly threatened at the other end when cutting inside and shooting wide, before Puncheon’s low effort across goal was pushed away by Gazzaniga.
Lambert again used his considerable frame to good effect to knock the ball down to Maya Yoshida whose acrobatic effort was turned away by Julio Cesar.
Southampton put the finishing touches on an outstanding display when more slack defending gave Lallana far too much time to deliver a cross which Ferdinand poked into his own net.
The final whistle was met with a chorus of boos as QPR’s winless run extended to 12 games. The Hoops are now four points adrift at the bottom after a display that failed to substantiate Hughes’ pre-match claims that his team had turned a corner.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jason Puncheon: The winger narrowly edged out the outstanding Adam Lallana after a devastating display on the wing which included a fine goal just before half-time.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS: Cesar 7, Diakite 6, Traore 5, Ferdinand 5, Cisse 5, Taarabt 7, Granero 5, Nelsen 6, Bosingwa 5, Hoilett 6, Faurlin 5. Subs: Derry 6, Mackie 6, Fabio 6.
SOUTHAMPTON: Gazzaniga 4, Clyne 7, Fonte 7, Yoshida 7, Shaw 8, Puncheon 8, Schneiderlin 7, Cork 7, Lallana 8, Ramírez 7, Lambert 7. Subs: S. Davis 6, Rodriguez 6, Fox 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jason Puncheon
- Adam Lallana
- Rickie Lambert