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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Loftus Road

Defenders to the rescue as Cook strike and Dunne's late, late stunner gives QPR massive lift in relegation battle

QPR (0) 2 Cook 65 Dunne 90+2

Birmingham City (0) 1 Bacuna 62

A stunning left-foot volley from Jimmy Dunne - of all people - shattered relegation rivals Birmingham City to give the Hoops a precious win in their fight to beat the drop.

Having been a goal down, this represented a glorious comeback which may just have tipped the scales in their favour when it comes to staying out of the bottom three.

For a few brief minutes, they were actually back in the bottom three as they trailed to a goal from the outstanding Juninho Bacuna, but a quick response from Steve Cook restored parity.

Yet it was to be another defender who stole the show.

Dunne reached a long launch from keeper Asmir Begovic and when Dion Sanderson's weak header - under pressure from Sinclair Armstrong - fell back into Dunne's orbit, the defender controlled the ball on his chest before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the far corner from outside the box.

Talk about dramatic finishes. The outpouring of joy from the fans after the full-time whistle was understandable.

That goal looks priceless in light of another huge showdown at Loftus Road next week against Sheffield Wednesday - one more of those sides in the mix and breathing down their necks.

For Birmingham, it is seven without a win now and they are in trouble - one of three teams on 39 points above doomed Rotherham. Rangers are now on a relatively healthy 43 points.

The Midlanders took the lead when Bacuna - the pick of the players on show - played the ball out wide to Ethan Laird and raced into the box to receive a return past that he clipped in off Asmir Begovic's left hand post.

But their joy was short-lived. From a floated Anderson free-kick, Dunne rose up at the far post to head back into the danger zone and Cook fired home at the second attempt after his first effort had been blocked.

The game threatened to pack a punch at the outset, with a vibrant full-house pumped up and quick to boo former players Tyler Roberts and Laird - both now in the Birmingham ranks.

The visitors filled the upper School End and seemed buoyed by the return of Gary Rowett in the dug-out. It all made for a heady Good Friday mix.

Both teams seemed intent on grabbing points needed to stay above the bottom three in this year's tight and fraught Championship relegation battle.

Roberts drilled just over from the left edge of the penalty area, showing the sort of skills and balance which have in the past suggested an even more dramatic career path lay ahead of him.

For Rangers, Chris Willock's cross was almost put away by Ilias Chair with a close-range header, and the always-industrious Lucas Anderson got ahead of the last defender to touch a left-wing cross onto the top of the crossbar.

Anderson also had a great opening after a lovely deft chip from Chair, but he blazed over from 12 yards and as the ball flew over, it seemed a general signal for the quality to dip as the first-half petered out.

The real action was to come in the second half.

R's: (4-2-3-1) Begovic - Dunne, Cook, Clarke-Salter, Paal (Larkeche 87) - Hayden (Colback 60), Field - Willock (Smyth 76), Andersen, Chair - Frey (Armstrong 60)

Brum: (3-4-3) Ruddy - Sanderson, Aiwu, Buchanan - Laird, Paik Seung-ho, Bielik (Gardner 90+1), Drameh - Bacuna (James 84), Stansfield (Hogan 84), Roberts (Miyoshi 73)

Attendance: 17,170


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