Austin scores hat-trick in dramatic QPR win

QPR 3 West Bromwich Albion 2

Charlie Austin scored a stunning hat-trick, taking his goal tally for the season to 11, as QPR fought back from 2-0 down to clinch another priceless home win and climb out of the relegation zone.

Victorious against relegation-threatened Aston Villa, Burnley and Leicester, Rangers found themselves in serious trouble after goals from Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela put fellow strugglers West Brom two up within 20 minutes.

Austin responded by belting in a penalty and then, three minutes into the second half, pouncing from close range to haul his team level.

And he completed a remarkable Rangers recovery by heading in the winner with four minutes remaining.

Harry Redknapp’s side fell behind when Lescott headed home after Sebastien Pocognoli’s right-wing corner had been flicked on at the near post by Stephane Sessegnon.

Varela doubled Albion’s lead when he waltzed through the QPR defence and applied the finish after exchanging passes with Sessegnon, who was a constant threat.

But Rangers were given a much-needed boost when James Morrison was adjudged to have impeded Leroy Fer after keeper Ben Foster had spilled Joey Barton’s corner, and Austin converted the resulting penalty.

And the striker struck again when Barton’s corner was headed against the bar by Richard Dunne and Bobby Zamora headed the loose ball towards Austin, who smashed into the roof of the net.

It had looked ominous for Rangers during a diabolical start in which they were caused major problems on the right-hand side.

In the second minute, Sessegnon pulled the ball back for Craig Gardner, whose shot was pushed out by keeper Rob Green.

There was another anxious moment for the home side when Sessegnon took on Yun Suk-Young – who later went off injured – and found Brown Ideye, who shot wastefully over.

Lescott made no mistake, however, nodding in his first goal since joining Albion in the summer.

Sessegnon was also involved in the second goal 10 minutes later and the visitors looked in complete control before Austin, back from suspension, netted for the fifth consecutive home game.

Albion remained dangerous and Rangers continued to struggle to contain Sessegnon, who had a powerful effort tipped over by Green five minutes before the break.

But the R’s were level soon after the restart – and Barton then appealed in vain for a penalty, claiming he had been tripped by Morrison in the box.

Substitute Junior Hoilett created a decent chance when he galloped down the right and sent in a low cross for Austin, who was denied by Foster’s save.

It was only a temporary reprieve for the Baggies and once again a Barton corner led to a goal, Austin meeting the midfielder’s right-wing delivery in emphatic fashion.

Their horrible start aside, Rangers deserved the three points – although they survived a late scare when Saido Berahino went past Steven Caulker and fired against Green’s near post.

QPR (4-4-2): Green, Onuoha, Dunne, Caulker, Yun (Hill 29), Vargas (Hoilett 67), Henry, Barton, Fer, Austin, Zamora (Kranjcar 80).
Subs not used: McCarthy, Ferdinand, Phillips. Mutch.

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