Loftus Road

In Profile: QPR

by Stuart Vose

We profile 2013-14 Championship play-off winners.

A tense Championship play-off final saw QPR seal a return to the Barclays Premier League at the first attempt.

Ten-man Rangers emerged victorious at Wembley thanks to a late goal from Bobby Zamora just when it seemed as if extra time was looming.

Harry Redknapp’s side ensured a quick return to the top flight after they were relegated with 25 points in 2012-13.

The Loftus Road club began life in the second tier with an experienced squad and maintained a place amongst the front-runners throughout the season.

They sat third at the beginning of November having won eight and lost just one of their opening 13 league games.

That position was maintained by the turn of the year, anchored by a home record of nine wins from 12 matches.

However, an injury to Charlie Austin in late January was a blow, with the Hoops’ leading scorer having bagged 15 goals already.

A five-match winless run followed, though a return of four wins from six games after that meant Rangers remained firmly in the promotion picture.

A 10-point return from the final four league games saw Rangers finish fourth with 80 points from 46 games. That set up a play-off semi-final clash with Wigan, who were dispatched 2-1 on aggregate over two legs, with all the goals coming in the second game at Loftus Road.

Austin scored both, including an extra-time winner, before Zamora bagged the decider against Derby at Wembley.

Redknapp’s side were particularly strong at home throughout the campaign, with their 15 wins on their own patch bettered only by champions Leicester (17).

Meanwhile, only Burnley (14) had a better home defensive record than QPR’s 18 goals conceded.

Sunderland’s last trip to Loftus Road ended in a 3-1 defeat during the latter stages of the 2012-13 season.

However, the previous year’s outing ended in a 3-2 away win thanks to Wes Brown’s late header after Rangers had hauled back a 2-0 deficit.

The first meeting between Sunderland and QPR next season will be the 32nd all-time game between the sides.