Saints pile on QPR's woes
Jason Puncheon and Morgan Schneiderlin (AP)
London - Southampton piled the pressure on under-fire QPR manager Mark Hughes with a 3-1 victory over their relegation rivals at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Nigel Adkins's side pushed Hughes to the brink of the sack after goals from Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon put the visitors in control of a match dubbed 'El Sackico' with both bosses reportedly in danger of losing their jobs.
David Hoilett briefly gave QPR hope when he reduced the deficit in the second half, but an own goal from Anton Ferdinand condemned the west London club to a 12th Enlgish Premier League match without a win this season.
With QPR remaining bottom of the table afer the club's Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes described the clash as a "must-win" fixture earlier in the week, it seems Hughes - who took over from Neil Warnock last season - is now in severe danger of being dismissed.
In constrast, although Southampton are still in the relegation zone, Adkins may be able to sleep a little easier after his team won for just the second time in the league this season and ended a run of five successive away defeats.
Saints reaped the rewards from an enterprising display, while QPR looked wracked with nerves from the moment Puncheon's cross clipped the far post and deflected wide early on.
Adel Taarabt forced Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga into a quick reaction save as the hosts threatened for the first time.
But Lambert opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when QPR failed to clear a corner. Gaston Ramirez pulled back for Jose Fonte, whose shot was prodded goalwards by Puncheon. That effort was cleared off the line but Lambert was on hand to bundle home.
There was little response from Hughes' rattled side and Southampton went further ahead on the stroke of half-time.
Puncheon started the move on the right and, when he collected the ball from Nathaniel Clyne, the winger turned past Alejandro Faurlin to score with a powerful strike.
QPR were booed off at half-time and Hughes tried to spark his side into life by replacing Faurlin with Jamie Mackie.
Initially the switch seemed to have worked as Taarabt floated in a cross that Hoilett headed home in the 49th minute.
But Southampton showed no signs of panicking and Puncheon, delivering a man of the match display, blasted in a low effort from an acute angle that was tipped wide by Julio Cesar.
And the visitors sealed a vital three points in the 83rd minute when Puncheon played a short corner to Morgan Schneiderlin and the French midfielder's cross deflected in off Ferdinand at the near post.