QPR 3 (Taarabt pen 26, Faurlin 61, Smith 71)
Reading 1 (Long 68)
QPR returned to the top of the npower Championship with a 3-1 victory over Reading at Loftus Road this afternoon.
Adel Taarabt was the star of the show - scoring one and playing a key role in setting up both of Rangers' others.
He opened the scoring by winning and converting a 26th minute spotkick. Tripped on the left side of the area, his cheekily chipped spotkick gave Adam Federici no chance.
Bradley Orr saw red just before the break for a high challenge on Hal Robson-Kanu and Reading looked to get back into the game after the break.
But Alejandro Faurlin doubled the hosts' lead with a deflected finish from 15 yards.
Shane Long produced a wonder goal to get the Royals back into the game - smashing a 25-yard thunderbolt past Paddy Kenny and into the top right corner to reignite the clash.
But moments later, a superb Taarabt free kick was brilliantly saved by Federici only for Tommy Smith to follow up and finish from a tight angle.
Simon Church and Brian Howard had late chances to worry Neil Warnock's men, but Kenny pushed the latter's late effort around his post with his fingertips and Reading left West London with nothing to show for their efforts.
QPR: Kenny, Orr, Walker, Connolly, Gorkss, Derry, Faurlin, Smith, Taarabt (Agyemang 81), Smith (Ephraim 90), Mackie, Hulse (Clarke 81).
Subs: Cerny, Leigertwood, Rowlands, Parker.
Yellow: Derry, Clarke
Reading: Federici; Griffin, Harte, Mills, Khizanishvili, Karacan (Church 61), Howard, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu (Hunt 72), Tabb (Antonio 81), Long.
Subs: McCarthy, Armstrong, Cummings, Pearce.
Yellow: Mills, Karacan, Antonio
Ref: Mr S J Tanner
Att: 15,692 (2,461 away fans)
The first chance of the game was a glorious one for the hosts. After a stop-start opening eight minutes, Alejandro Faurlin curled a wonderful 22-yard effort past Federici but it bounced down off the stanchion for Hulse, only six yards out. He merely had to tap it home, but somehow contrived to scuff his effort completely and Andy Griffin gratefully hooked it clear of danger.
A lively affair was witnessing its fair share of hefty challenges and both sides looked to attack - Tabb at one end scurrying onto a ball over the top but shepherded wide of goal, Mackie at the other end lashing high into the away fans from a difficult angle.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Federici was in alert action again, this time pushing a downward Rob Hulse header away from his bottom right corner and Khizanishvili was on hand to hack it clear.
Soon after McAnuff led a great break down the right flank, but his low cross into the near post was well read and Tabb couldn't get on the end of it after a lung-busting run to get into the box.
QPR came very close to bagging an opener five minutes later, Mackie making progress down the right and cutting it across for Smith, who made a mess of shooting from six yards out.
Sadly, Adel Taarabt recycled it on the far side, cut inside two men and fell to ground under a challenge. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Taarabt cheekily chipped home the spotkick to gift Rangers the lead.
Taarabt's trickery in midfield was causing real problems and Mills recieved a booking for a late challenge on the Moroccan. The play was allowed to continue and Hulse should have done better with a header in the penalty area that sailed over Federici's crossbar.
The end of the half ended in high drama. Bradley Orr flew into a meaty challenge on Hal Robson-Kanu as the Royals winger tried to break down the left. And referee Tanner adjudged it a dangerous challenge to produce a straight red card for the Rangers right back. Neil Warnock's men would have to tackle the second half with only ten men.
Reading's early intent was evident in Jobi McAnuff's break forward which ended in a Tabb volley from distance that flew over Paddy Kenny's crossbar.
McAnuff then tested Kenny with a low strike from distance in only the second minute since the restart.
But QPR still posed a threat at the other end. Faurlin threaded a low cross through to Hulse who tried to get a glancing head to it at the near post but Federici was calmly behind it.
Taarabt provided Rangers' sole outlet - but what an outlet! Everything the wily midfielder did seemed to turn to gold, and it was his throughball that created QPR's second. Taarabt's clever throughball released Hulse who slid a low cross into the six yard box. Mills did well to backheel it away from a lurking striker, but it fell to Faurlin, who smashed it home off a Royals defender from 15 yards out.
Taarabt's sheer presence up front almost carved out another opportunity moments later, but Griffin tracked back to dispossess him at the last after he's edged the ball around Federici and bore down on an open goal.
Brian McDermott introduced Simon Church for Karacan, and Church almost had an immediate impact. Robson-Kanu dribbled into the box from the left and cut it back for Church, whose first time shot was frustratingly blocked by Long who couldn't get out of the way.
Out of nowhere, Shane Long produced something special to reignite the contest. Turning away from his man, he unleashed an unstoppable right-footed strike that whistled past Kenny and into the top right corner. A quite wonderful goal from Long which may well be the best he's ever scored. The rejuvenated Royals fans rejoiced and sensed a way back into the match.
But that hope was quickly snuffed out by an unbeaten and reslient home side full of confidence. Tabb conceded a free kick on the edge of the area and Taarabt curled a vicious free kick over the wall only for Federici to pull off a world class save to palm it off his line. But Tommy Smith reacted quickest and sidefooted home the loose ball from a tight angle.
Matt Mills had a fleeing chance to reduce the deficit again, but headed a corner back across the face of goal to no avail. And the Royals continued to press, throwing a third striker in Noel Hunt on up front.
Church was given a golden opportunity to set up a thrilling finish, but ater taking in Long's pass he stabbed his hurried left-footed effort over the bar.
Then Howard forced Kenny to produce a wonderful fingertip save to tip a left-footed drive around the left upright. But it wasn't to be the Royals' afternoon.