Report: Albion 2 QPR 0
Brighton and Hove Albion’s play-off push received a massive shot in the arm thanks to two late goals from Leo Ulloa and Stephen Ward.
Against a QPR side also in need of the points, Oscar Garcia’s side rode their luck at times, but they came into their own in the final stages to record a precious victory.
With both teams desperate for maximum points, the game started at breakneck speed with all-out attack clearly on the agenda.
Jermaine Jenas had the first opportunity of the evening for the visitors, curling his effort the wrong side of Tomasz Kuszczak’s upright, while Jesse Lingard responded with a speculative shot that spun wide.
Rangers always looked compact and dangerous on the break; Junior Hoilett seeing a deflected effort well held by Kuszczak, while the Pole needed to be alert to palm over a rasping 25-yard pile-driver from Ravel Morrison.
Albion’s best chance of the opening spell came from a similar break forward; Will Buckley cutting in from the right to feed Leo Ulloa, but the striker drilled his effort into the side netting.
There was a let-up in the intensity as the half drew to a close, bar Ulloa’s miscue from a quickly taken Jake Forster-Caskey free-kick, and although neither goal had been breached, you got a sense that would change after the break.
Rangers started the second half on the front foot, with Kuszczak twice being called into action early on to make saves from Hoilett.
The former Blackburn midfielder also flashed an effort inches wide as the visitors threatened to get on top, with Albion’s best response coming from a Forster-Caskey shot from distance.
As the game entered its final quarter, Oscar Garcia introduced Kazenga LuaLua to the fray – as a replacement for Forster-Caskey – and it brought an immediate injection of pace back into the side.
It also lifted the Amex crowd and they were soon in raptures when Bruno flashed a low cross across the face of goal which evaded Green and Ulloa was on hand to tuck the ball home.
Hearts were in mouths when Morrison’s shot across the face of goal was missed by sub Modibo Maiga, but Albion made the game safe five minutes from time when Ward reacted first to fire home LuaLua’s corner.
Albion have now extended their unbeaten run to three league games and will be buoyant as the trip to Bolton on Saturday looms large.