Queens Park Rangers produced a dominant performance against an out-of-sorts Wolves to prevail 3-0 away from home and climb into the top half of the Premier League table.
QPR’s new-look side impressed in Monday’s game against Newcastle without getting their rewards in a goalless draw, but they did not have to wait long to take a decisive lead at Molineux.
Captain Joey Barton broke the deadlock on eight minutes with a scuffed finish from Shaun Wright-Phillips’ mis-hit cross but, if that goal was hardly a classic, Alejandro Faurlin doubled QPR’s advantage moments later with a terrific volley from the edge of the area.
The visitors were fluent with their passing and movement but they were helped by an abject performance from Wolves, whose manager Mick McCarthy responded by making two changes at half-time.
The hosts were more competitive after the interval but Paddy Kenny’s goal remained largely unthreatened and QPR wrapped up a convincing victory three minutes from time when DJ Campbell swept the ball home from Armand Traore’s cut-back.
Manager Neil Warnock will take huge encouragement from the performance as his side – featuring the five permanent signings recruited since Tony Fernandes’ takeover of the London club – ran rings around their opponents at times.
With the likes of Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips instrumental in proceedings, it seems a new era for the Loftus Road outfit has now truly begun.
Wolves took to the field without striker Steven Fletcher, who was ruled out after sustaining a groin injury in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham, but winger Matt Jarvis was fit to come into the first XI.
The other change from the Spurs game saw George Elokobi start with Stephen Hunt dropping to the bench.
QPR looked lively from the first whistle and Wayne Hennessey had to pull off a superb diving save in the opening seconds to tip Shaun Derry’s header over the bar.
The pressure did not let up and the visitors took an early lead when Wright-Phillips cut a bouncing ball back to new Rs skipper Barton, who slotted it past Hennessey as the Wolves defence stood still.
Two minutes later QPR doubled their advantage as Faurlin chested down a failed clearance on the edge of the box and rifled into the net. The shell-shocked hosts looked to make a swift response and Karl Henry drove an effort towards Paddy Kenny’s goal that just clipped the outside of the post.
But the away side were soon breaking forward again, Wright-Phillips attempting an early shot which Hennessey claimed. Stephen Ward, playing as a striker in Fletcher’s absence, then headed over when he might have done better before Jay Bothroyd sent a free-kick into Hennessey’s arms.
Christophe Berra made a saving challenge to halt Traore’s progress after the Senegal international had advanced into the box and Jarvis cleared Anton Ferdinand’s header off the line.
QPR were passing their way around the Wolves team with ease and Hennessey had to race out get to the ball ahead of Wright-Phillips. Barton then curled an attempt narrowly wide and Richard Stearman was just able to put off Wright-Phillips enough for the winger to scuff his shot at Hennessey.
Wolves boss McCarthy made two changes at half-time in a bid to give his side some impetus, introducing Sam Vokes and Adlene Guedioura for Elokobi and Michael Kightly.
Three minutes after the restart Wanderers captain Roger Johnson nodded a corner over the bar, but back came QPR with Traore skewing an effort off target. A quick attack by the visitors saw them in a two v two situation, but the move broke down when Adel Taarabt tried to turn in the area.
McCarthy threw on Hunt for Jarvis, while Warnock sent Campbell and Tommy Smith into action in place of Bothroyd and Taarabt. QPR’s play had warranted another goal and Wright-Phillips almost delivered it in the 78th minute, only to see his effort come back off the post.
The visitors were not to be denied, though, and Campbell was teed up by Traore to make it 3-0 in the 87th minute.