MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray admitted Saturday was not the worst day of his reign at the Riverside. However, he will not want another one like it when his side entertain Nottingham Forest tomorrow night.
For the best part of 40 minutes Boro ran their socks off in competing with the Championship leaders but, slowly and surely, Neil Warnock’s side were turning the screws.
Little by little did the QPR attack find more and more space .
Yet Boro’s defence did not seem quick to take the hint they were leaving one gap too many as chances fell to Adel Taarabt and Heider Helguson which on another day would have been taken.
Then, five minutes before half-time, the aforementioned duo combined to give QPR the lead.
Helguson was allowed too much time to get a shot on goal which spun in via Andrew Davies’ block.
With their tails up, QPR made sure of the points after the interval with Helguson’s header and Taarabt’s penalty after the latter had been tripped by Merouane Zemamma.
A disappointed Mowbray said: “I don’t think this is my worst day since coming back to Middlesbrough. It would be a bit harsh to say that it is.
“That is football. You have to take it on the chin sometimes. We were playing against a team which is top of the table – but 3-0 was a bit harsh.”
The difference between those at the top and those at the bottom is usually defined in that the bottom tend to give up a lot of chances to high-flying teams who usually rattle in a few goals.
When table-toppers like QPR give a team fighting for survival like Boro a glorious opportunity, it must be taken. Ask Scott McDonald.
In the first minute, visiting goalkeeper Paddy Kenny mis-hit his clearance straight to the Australian.
The ex-Celtic man duly drove towards goal, no doubt thinking he was about to add to the goal he bagged at Millwall the previous week.
Sadly, he picked the wrong corner as Kenny guessed correctly to deny McDonald and atone for his error.
Shortly after, Boro’s defence went to sleep as Helguson found himself clear in the box – only to blaze his effort into Row Z.
However, the warning to close QPR down was not heeded and Boro paid for it five minutes before the interval. Taarabt’s trickery on the left found Helguson in acres of space and although Davies rushed back to put in the block he could only watch in horror as the ball hit him and spun over Steele’s head.
However, there was nothing fortunate about QPR’s second on the hour.
Wayne Routledge burst down the left and Boro’s defence appeared leaden-footed as Helguson rose unchallenged to head home.
Just to compound Boro’s situation even further, Zemamma made a rash challenge on fellow Moroccan Taarabt in the box and the QPR skipper dusted himself down to send Steele the wrong way.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele, McMahon, Hines, Davies (Haas 82), Bennett, Emnes (Zemmama 59), Arca (Robson 59), Bailey, Taylor, McDonald, Lita. Subs (not used): Ripley, Boyd, Grounds, Smallwood.
QPR: Kenny, Orr (Connolly 78), Hall, Shittu, Hill, Routledge, Derry, Faurlin, Taarabt, Helguson (Hulse 84), Buzsaky (Ephraim 69). Subs (not used): Cerny, Gorkss, Moen, Miller.
Booked: Faurlin, Hall.
Goals: Helguson 41, 61, Taarabt 68 pen.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire) Attendance: 16,972