MISERABLE Sunderland suffered the ignimony of becoming the first Premier League club to suffer a home defeat to QPR this season after a Stadium of Light humbling.
After taking four points from the previous two top flight games, Sunderland crashed down to earth with a 2-0 defeat that ended QPR’s run of 11 successive defeats on the road.
Gus Poyet’s men paid the price for an utterly abject opening half-hour, where they struggled to string two passes together and Leroy Fer put QPR ahead away from home for the first time this season.
Jermain Defoe missed a sitter and Connor Wickham saw a header brilliantly saved by Rob Green, before QPR doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time through a Bobby Zamora half-volley.
Defoe and Ricky Alvarez were both denied by further smart saves from Green in the second half, yet Sunderland were unable to get back into the game as they slipped back to two points above the relegation zone.
Adam Johnson and Connor Wickham returned to the Sunderland starting line-up after the Black Cats learned over the weekend that the latter’s calf injury was not as serious as first feared.
Wickham was preferred to Danny Graham alongside Jermain Defoe, while Johnson was restored to the side at the expense of Ricky Alvarez, who had started the previous two games.
There were six changes in the QPR side, with injured trio Charlie Austin, Richard Dunne and Nedum Onuoha all missing.
Rio Ferdinand, Suk-Young Yun, Mauricio Isla, Niko Kranjcar, Karl Henry and Bobby Zamora were all included.
QPR began the game in ascendancy, with Sunderland barely getting out of their own half in the opening exchanges and proving to be too sloppy in possession.
But Sunderland had half a chance to break the deadlock in the 13th minute when Anthony Reveillere’s cross from the right went all the way through to Patrick van Aanholt at the far post.
The left-back met it flush on the volley, but his effort was high and handsome over the bar.
But Sunderland paid the price for their awful start when QPR broke the deadlock in the 17th minute.
Matt Phillips received the ball on the right-hand touchline and send a beautiful arching cross into the area, where Leroy Fer got ahead of Liam Bridcutt and headed into the bottom corner.
The visitors went close again in the 26th minute when Niko Kranjcar’s superb crossfield pass picked out the onrushing Mauricio Isla on the opposite flank.
It left Isla with just Costel Pantilimon ahead of him, but the Romanian had come sharply out of his goal to block at the right-back’s feet.
The woodwork then spared Sunderland moments later when Phillips span away from van Aanholt down the right-hand side of the area and pulled the ball back into the path of Fer.
Fer planted a first-time side-footer which bobbled past Pantilimon and against the inside of the post, rolled along the goalmouth before Phillips collected possession again from an offside position.
However, Sunderland should have pulled level in the 31st minute when Gomez sent in an excellent low cross from the left which was on a plate for Defoe, four yards out, but under pressure from Rob Green, the striker managed to loop a shot wide of the far post.
The Black Cats went desperately close again four minutes later when Johnson’s swinging cross from the right found Wickham at the far post, but his header was brilliantly tipped onto the underside of the bar by Green, before he managed to paw it away off the line.
On the stroke of half-time, QPR doubled their advantage when another Phillips cross from the right landed in the path of Zamora, who met it with a brilliant right-footed half-volley that sailed into the top corner.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 0 QPR 2
Alvarez was introduced for Gomez at the interval, as Poyet switched to an orthodox 4-4-2.
But it didn’t halt the pattern of the game, with Sunderland running down blind alleys.
However, another brilliant save from Green denied Sunderland a way back into the game in the 66th minute after Seb Larsson picked out Johnson on the left with an excellent crossfield pass.
Johnson powered in a low cross which was guided on by Defoe, eight yards out, only for Green to dive to his left and turn it away.
Green was at his best again in the 69th minute when Alvarez cut inside off the right and hit a powerful low shot towards the far bottom corner, which the QPR keeper did brilliantly to turn around the post.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 0 QPR 2
SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Reveillere (Brown 63), Vergini, O’Shea, van Aanholt, Bridcutt, Larsson, Gomez (Alvarez 46), Johnson, Wickham (Fletcher 82), Defoe. Subs not used: Graham, Coates, Agnew, Mannone. Booked: Larsson (41), Alvarez (83)
QPR: Green, Caulker, Ferdinand, Phillips (Wright-Phillips 52), Barton, Fer (Zarate 75), Yun, Isla (Doughty 85), Kranjcar, Henry, Zamora. Subs not used: McCarthy, Traore, Hill, Taarabt. Booked: Zamora (34), Ferdinand (70), Barton (78)