In a match laced with drama, Blues stormed into a 4-0 lead, Che Adams bagging a hat-trick to go with a Harlee Dean goal.BCFC
In a match laced with drama, Blues stormed into a 4-0 lead, Che Adams bagging a hat-trick to go with a Harlee Dean goal.
But goals either side of half-time by Matt Smith put things back in the balance and, to be fair to QPR, they threw everything at Blues after the break.
When Jordan Cousins scored a third in the 80th minute, the home fans sensed something special in the air.
But they didn't bank on Lee Camp's heroics. He made a string of superlative saves in that barmy second period and denied QPR in the fourth minute of added-time, when Nahki Wells had the chance to level it up and complete an improbable comeback.
But Camp saved his penalty and Blues managed to ride out that second-half storm in the most incredible of fashion to secure a victory that should have been a lot easier than it was due to their stunning performance before the interval.
Blues were unchanged from last weekend, with Garry Monk electing to keep the diamond midfield with Jota at the tip.
The first attempt at goal came from QPR, with Bright Osayi-Samuel cutting inside from the left to let rip only for Wells to get onto the flight path of the ball and head it in across the near post.
Camp then had to stretch high and paw away a back post cross by Osayi-Samuel that looked as if it would drift in.
But those early moments apart, Blues by and large dominated possession and asked a lot of questions of the home defence, who knew they were in a battle – but probably not quite realising what was about to transpire . . .
Sure enough, Adams drilled Blues into a 21st minute lead, showing the deadly clinical edge he has brought to the party all season.
It came from a ball helped forward and round the corner by Gary Gardner, that put Joel Lynch under scrutiny, as ‘keeper Joe Lumley came charging out to get involved too.
Adams backed into the centre-half and earned possession out-muscling him, then turned neatly past his inside before despatching the ball hard and low, with a diagonal shot that Lumley couldn’t reach.
Blues ahead and that made it six goals in six successive games for Adams – the first Blues player to achieve that feat in the league since Paul Devlin in 1997.
And five minutes later Adams struck again, to put Blues in command.
Maxime Colin got possession for Blues and the ball was helped forward to Jota, in that central area in the final third.
Jota waited and delivered a lovely pass with the outside of his left boot to Adams, who had timed his run perfectly straight down the middle of the QPR defence.
Adams steadied himself to take a touch and go past the grounded Lumley to the right before passing the ball into the unguarded net.
Taking his tally to 18, Adams thus became the first man to score that many in the league since Steve Claridge 24 years ago – and he passed Mikael Forssell’s mark of 17 in 2003-04.
Blues were flying, QPR stunned.
In the 36th minute Gary Gardner almost got in on the act, coming forward and bending a sidefooter from 25 yards that Lumley spectacularly pushed away at full stretch.
From the right wing Jota corner that followed Dean, unmarked by the six-yard box, powered a header down and it bounced past the flailing defenders and ‘keeper into the net.
And there was even more to come for Blues – Adams bagging his hat-trick just before the break.
Again, it was a lovely-crafted move for Blues as Adams backheeled the ball into the path of Jacques Maghoma who, in turn, did the same for Jota, coming round on the trail after the starting the move wide on the right, near the D.
Jota curled a left-footer past Lumley, only to see it slam into the post. The ball came back out, struck the ‘keeper’s heels as it went through his legs, and as he tried to get his bearings Adams was there in a flash to gobble things up and stick the loose ball away.
Blues, four goals up away from home in the opening period for the first time since the 7-1 win at Oxford United in December, 1998.
In first-half added-time, Blues conceded a goal after giving away a corner.
It came arrowing over from Luke Freeman and Smith stooped at the front post to hold off Michael Morrison and head past Camp.
To be churlish, it took a smidgen of the gloss of what was an astonishing first-half by Blues.
Half-time: QPR 1, Blues 4
QPR made a double change at the break bringing on Cousins and Toni Leistner, moving to a back three, with Darnell Furlong and Jake Bidwell pushing on high as wing-backs.
Massimo Luongo sat deeper to try and take care of Jota as QPR came out with real intent.
And the change and approach reaped early rewards as QPR reduced the arrears in the 48th minute, Smith getting his second.
Smith got into the six-yard box, at the front post, to turn in a right wing cross, angled over by Wells, on the slide.
All of a sudden, QPR were alive again and the Loftus Road crowd suddenly began to believe and urge their team on.
Blues tried to hit back with a swinging shot by Jota that bounced just past the post.
But QPR were a completely different proposition.
Blues almost exposed QPR on a clever counter, involving neat feet by Maikel Kieftenbeld, but Adams low cross into the heart of the box was cleared.
The contest was turning into a rip-roaring encounter, both teams going at one another in frenzied fashion.
QPR made a final change, in the 61st minute, taking off Lynch and sending on Pawel Wszolek.
In the 66th minute Camp brilliantly tipped over a fierce half-volley from Smith, who swivelled on the edge of the area and let fly, the ball taking a deflection on the way off Wes Harding too, causing it to loop awkwardly that would have taken it just under the woodwork.
Then Camp got down low to save a punt by Leistner and as Morrison and Smith both raced for the loose ball the striker went down near the byline, but the ball had gone behind for a goal kick and the referee remained unmoved.
Then, moments later, Camp pulled off a remarkable stop to deny QPR a third goal: Smith headed down a deep cross towards the six-yard box and Wells caught it on the volley, with his sidefoot, but the Blues ‘keeper flung his body in the way and somehow kept the ball out.
And, again, Camp came to the rescue, the bat up in the air a header at goal by Smith as QPR refused to go quietly.
Kerim Mrabti and Craig Gardner were sent into the fray and Blues tried to alter things and stem what was being thrown at them. The three in midfield went a little flatter, with Jota remaining advanced in behind along with Mrbati, in a 4-3-2-1.
With 10 minutes to go, QPR countered on Blues and advanced down the right and although the initial cross was overhit by Wszolek, the second ball in from the other side was pushed away by Camp and Cousins crashed into the top corner an unstoppable half-volley on the burst, from just inside the area.
And minutes later Smith got on the end of another Wszolek cross and his flashing header bounced just wide of the post.
You sensed there was another goal in this for QPR and Blues nerve, resolve and mental state must have been tested to the full. The home side just went into Smith and aerially at every opportunity and gambled for all they were worth.
In the 88th minute Camp was there again, acrobatically touching over a powerful header by Smith at the back post from Bidwell’s raking diagonal.
In the 90th minute it could have been all over as Jota angled a pass to Mrabti, clean through on the right of the box. He fired hard and low but Lumley got his body in the way and the ball ballooned over the crossbar.
Five minutes of added-time was then signalled, to huge cheers by the host fans.
And in the fourth of those QPR were awarded a penalty when Freeman was brought down Craig Gardner, sliding in to stop him bursting on goal after more chaos in and around the Blues area.
But the drama was not over as Wells stepped up, hit it low to the left and Camp pulled off a parrying save with his body and Gary Gardner cleared the rebound- amazing stuff.
Blues still had to survive two corners deep into the six-minute of added-time, and the whole box was packed out, with Lumley up too.
But they did so, standing strong and seeing out the deliveries before the referee finally brought to an end a rollercoaster of a match, and one that will live long in the memory.
QPR (4-4-2): Lumley, Furlong, Bidwell, Lynch (Wszolek 61), Hall, Luongo, Osayi-Samuel (Leistner ht), Smith, Wells, Scowen (Cousins ht), Freeman. Subs not used: Ingram, Eze, Manning, Hemed.
Goal: Smith (45+1, 48), Cousins (80)
Booked: Lynch (53)
Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Harding, Colin, Kieftenbeld, Morrison, Dean, Jota, Adams (Vassell 80), Jutkiewicz (Mrabti 68), Gary Gardner, Maghoma (Craig Gardner 74). Subs not used: Trueman, Pedersen, Mahoney, Davis.
Goals: Adams (21, 26, 42), Dean (36)
Booked: Maghoma (58)
Referee: D Bond
Attendance: 14,234 (1,774 away)