QPR 6 Cardiff City 1
A thrilling display from an unplayable Bright Osayi-Samuel laid the foundations for a comprehensive New Year’s Day win for a rampant Rangers in which Nakhi Wells hit a hat-trick.
It was one of those days when the youngster could do no wrong as he bagged two goals and helped set up the fourth goal on a day when he tormented the bemused Welshmen.
Wells – also seemingly determined to enjoy the perfect start to 2020 - headed home the first and fourth goals as Rangers made a nonsense of recent home form, which had poured cold water over ambitions to make the top six this season. His third arrived just past the hour.
Mark Warburton’s men were in the driving seat from the word go and in the ninth minute, Ebere Eze hit an early ball from deep on the left that paved the way for the opener. Wells was alert to it and stole ahead of Sol Bamba to nod over a stranded Neil Etheridge, in the Cardiff goal.
Encouraged, there were more good moments soon after, with Osayi-Samuel’s low cross into the danger area being blocked and Toni Leistner leathering a low shot through a crowded penalty area which Etheridge got down well to hold.
Aden Flint crashed a header against the crossbar and Lee Tomlin slipped a ball through for an under-pressure Robert Glatzel to fire a shot behind as Neil Harris’ men responded.
But if the visitors expected to get back into the game, they were in for a shock.
The warning came in a glorious move between Ilias Chair and Osayi-Samuel which ended in the winger’s low cross being hammered over the bar by Eze at the far post.
On 26 minutes, a superb piece of improvisation from Wells – scooping a chip into the box – allowed Osayi-Samuel to run on and clip the ball from close range past Cardiff’s exposed stopper,
But the moment of the half came in the 41st minute with a peach of a goal from Osayi-Samuel – and a fabulous assist from Joe Lumley.
Half the team rushed to congratulate the keeper for his quick thinking to kick hard and low out to the left flank where the irrepressible winger strode on, skipped past City players Jazz Richards and Leandro Bacuna before steadying himself to clip the ball past the Cardiff keeper.
And soon after the restart, he was at it again, skipping to the byline and crossing for Eze to play the ball back across the six yard box for Wells to nod in his second of the afternoon.
Eze then got in on the act in the 57th minute, with Chair the provider this time, darting in from the right and playing a low cross to the unmarked goalscorer.
Cardiff generously decided to make their own contribution – claiming an assist for Wells’ third of the afternoon. It was a stray back-pass which allowed the striker to side-step Richards – Etheridge thrown off course by the movement – before firing into an empty net.
That goal in the 64th minute was his 12th of the season and he came off moments later to rapturous home applause. But if anything, the response was even more pronounced when Osayi-Samuel went off after 76 minutes.
There were actually boos from the Loft End as he was hauled off because ecstatic home fans were enjoying watching him so much and didn’t want to see him depart. It had been a memorable performance.
Rangers played the last 12 minutes with 10 men because Leistner picked up a knock soon after the third substitution had been made.
With the luxury of a 6-0 lead, it was hardly going to matter, although Will Vaulks’ swerving shot from distance deceived Lumley to give the Bluebirds an injury-time consolation goal.
Line-up: Lumley – Hall, Leistner, Wallace – Cameron, Amos, Ball, Chair (Pugh 66) – Osayi-samuel (Smith 76), Wells (Hugill 66), Eze. Subs not used: Kelly, Kane, Manning, Mlakar.