QPR manager Mark Hughes saluted Djibril Cisse after the striker’s dramatic late winner against Stoke left his team on the verge of Premier League survival.
Hughes’ side appeared to be heading to the Championship but Cisse’s last-minute goal – and West Brom’s comeback against Bolton – means a point against Manchester City next weekend will keep Rangers in the top flight.
Bolton, who drew 2-2 after being two up, must now beat Stoke to have any chance of saving themselves and sending the R’s or Wigan down.
Hughes declared: “I’m delighted for Djibril. It’s been a little bit stop-start for him. He’s made an impact in terms of scoring but the reverse side is that he has missed a number of games [through suspension] and that has hurt us.
“If there’s one guy you’d want to be in that situation, waiting to get on the end of a chance, it’s him. He’s an outstanding finisher.
“The goal was more difficult than it appeared. The fact he dispatched it so nonchalantly shouldn’t detract from how difficult it was, but it’s food and drink to him.”
Cisse, left out of the starting line-up, was brought on as Rangers were struggling to create chances in a match they desperately needed to win.
Hughes explained: “I could have started with him but Stoke are a big, strong and powerful side, and we had to keep protection in other areas. It was always my intention to bring him on at some stage.”
The result leaves Hughes in a position where he could not only keep his team up but also determine the fate of two of his former clubs.
But the Welshman, who made his name as a player at Manchester United and was sacked as City boss, admitted he was simply pleased that Rangers’ destiny is still in their own hands.
He said: “We left it late. It wasn’t a great game and we’ve played much better, but the momentum we generated in recent home games was difficult to replicate.
“You hope something will happen and thankfully it did. Things have happened, stars have aligned, and things have fallen on our side of the line. We’re grateful for that.
“We cut it a little bit fine, but we’ll take it any time of the day. Our fate is in our own hands and it would be a fantastic story if we can go to City and get something.”
See also: Cisse brings Rangers back from the brink