They left it late, but Queens Park Rangers boosted their credentials of finishing in the top half of the table last night by defeating London rivals Millwall at Loftus Road.
Mark Warburton has led an R’s charge up the Championship table in 2021 after a less-than impressive start to the season, and it’s come off the back of a change in shape and some smart January signings.
Inconsistencies have crept into the team though recently with losses coming to the likes of Birmingham and Huddersfield, and things looked to be heading that away again as they went into half time 2-0 down thanks to goals from Jed Wallace and Mason Bennett.
But three of Warburton’s January signings made the difference in the second half, with goals from Charlie Austin, Stefan Johansen and a late Jordy de Wijs winner giving the hosts all three points and importantly it moved them into the top half of the table.
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That seemed like a world away a few months ago, but QPR will now look to finish in the top 10 with the play-offs probably out of reach.
There were some good second half performances, but it was Johansen who was the driving force for the Hoops, as he put in an accomplished performance which impressed former R’s boss Ian Holloway from a pundit’s point of view.
“What a comeback and second half performance from QPR, Millwall did miss a great chance, but Johansen was absolutely brilliant, scoring one and making one,” Holloway told Quest.
Johansen has always been a reliable hand in the Championship – in his first season with Fulham after joining from Celtic in 2016 he scored 11 times and he’s finding his scoring touch again.
At the age of 30 now, Johansen is more streetwise and is good at all aspects of being a midfielder, and it was definitely a position in which QPR needed to strengthen in January and he’s working out as a great signing for them.
Now it remains to be seen whether the R’s can sort out a permanent deal for the Norway international in the summer – Johansen is likely to be on a decent wage at Fulham and he still has one year left on his contract at Craven Cottage, but fans will be hopeful that Warburton and Les Ferdinand can convince him to stay for a few more years.