QPR vs West Brom report: Super Charlie Austin hat-trick secures brilliant comeback victory for Rangers

QPR 3 West Brom 2: Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela put the Baggies ahead but Austin's brilliance in front of goal gave Rangers victory

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The Independent Online

Charlie Austin needed only one chance – one fortunate break to go his way – for him to start turning this game on its head.

By the time he was done, he had devastated West Bromwich Albion, scoring a hat-trick and winning the game for Queens Park Rangers all by himself. It all started with a tangle in the penalty area after 24 minutes.

Rangers were 2-0 down in a must-win game and the only relevant question seemed to be how many West Brom would score. But James Morrison wrapped his arms around Leroy Fer as a corner came in and Craig Pawson did what many referees would not and awarded a penalty.

Alan Irvine, the West Brom manager, was right to say that “they do not get given every week”, but that does not make Pawson wrong.

Austin scored it, of course, bringing Rangers back into a game in which they had previously played no part whatsoever. His team were stable and, three minutes into the second half, he scored again, dragging Rangers level. Joey Barton curled in a corner, Richard Dunne’s header was tipped onto the bar by Ben Foster, Bobby Zamora hooked the ball back into the middle and Austin did the rest.

Most of the second half was tight and tense, with both sides nervous about whether to stick with one point or push for three. But Harry Redknapp, the QPR manager, threw on Junior Hoillet, who won a corner with four minutes left. Barton took it and Austin, after 86 minutes of running, found enough energy in his legs to spring above Sebastian Pocognoli and head the ball into the net.

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Lescott heads West Brom in front against QPR

That mades 11 Premier League goals this season for Austin, who was roared off at the end by the Loftus Road faithful. Six years ago Austin was scoring hat-tricks for Poole Town in the Wessex Premier Division after working on a building site. Now, he is the most important man in the attempt to keep QPR in the top flight.

Redknapp said: “Charlie has scored goals at every level, from the Southern League through the lower divisions and now in the Premier League. He deserves it, he’s a great lad. Everyone talks about his three goals but his tackle, late in the game, was like a  full-back. That summed his  work-rate up.”

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Lescott celebrates scoring a rare goal for West Brom

Redknapp was relieved with a win that, even at this stage in the season, felt imperative. Having not taken a single point on their travels so far, QPR need home wins and this was their fifth of the season. It took them to 15th, behind West Brom only on goal difference.

Before the game-changing penalty, West Brom had actually been playing very well. Irvine kept the same side who beat Aston Villa last weekend and, with their  4-5-1 system, they dominated QPR in midfield. Silvestre Varela and Stephane Sessegnon were too sharp and imaginative for Rangers’ lumbering back line, and it did  not take long for them to take  the lead.

 Sessegnon flicked on Pocognoli’s corner at the near post and Joleon Lescott headed past Rob Green. It was simple, effective and almost unopposed. West Brom’s second, 10 minutes later, was much the same.

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Austin rushes back after scoring his first goal of the game against West Brom

Eduardo Vargas rolled a loose pass straight to Varela, who ran forward with the ball. The defence backed off the Portuguese winger and a quick exchange of passes with Sessegnon took Dunne out of the game. Varela finished past Green and it felt like this was going to be a footballing lesson that would continue all afternoon.

Irvin said afterwards: “We didn’t surrender the lead, we lost it. It was bitterly disappointing.

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Charlie Austin heads in his third goal to win the game for QPR

“For the majority of the game we were the better team. But it is harder to lift the players up if you play badly. And we didn’t play badly.”

QPR: (4-4-2) Green; Onuoha, Dunne, Caulker, Yun (Hill, 29); Vargas (Hoillet, 67), Henry, Barton, Fer; Austin, Zamora (Kranjcar, 80).

West Bromwich: (4-1-4-1) Foster; Wisdom, McAuley, Lescott, Pocognoli (Gamboa, 90); Morrison; Sessegnon, Gardner, Dorrans, Varela; Ideye (Berahino, 69).

Referee: Craig Pawson.

Man of the match: Austin (QPR)

Match rating: 7/10

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