McClaren ‘so proud’ after QPR’s cup defeat

QPR gave it everything against top-flight opposition

Steve McClaren praised QPR’s players and fans after the FA Cup defeat against Watford.

Rangers were the better team for large spells of the fifth-round clash at a sold-out Loftus Road.

But Etienne Capoue’s goal, scored just before half-time, took the Premier League side through to the quarter-finals.

“I’m so proud of the players’ performance,” said Rangers manager McClaren.

“It was our third game in six days so to play with that intensity and level against a Premier League team, I’m very proud.

“The fans were magnificent tonight and they responded to the team’s performance.

“We want to create a team here that the fans can be proud of and I think the fans were tonight. I certainly was.”

Rangers, in the last 16 for the first time in 22 years, were left to rue two misses by Nahki Wells as well as Toni Leistner going agonisingly close.

Shortly before the goal, Luke Freeman led a QPR counter-attack and played the ball to his left to Wells, whose first-time shot was pushed away by keeper Heurelho Gomes.

As Rangers desperately searched for a second-half equaliser, Wells was presented with another chance, this time when defender Christian Kabasele’s poor clearance fell straight to the on-loan striker.

Wells was again unable to capitalise, steering a left-footed effort wide.

And with three minutes remaining, a stretching Leistner was just unable to hit the target at the far post after Darnell Furlong had laid the ball across goal.

“I don’t think they could have done more apart from score,” said McClaren, whose team had lost five league games in a row prior to the tie.

“Toni Leistner’s chance at the end kind of sums us up if you’ve seen us in the last few games; close, but not close enough.

“We were committed but, in the final third, you don’t win if you don’t score.”