Four takeaways from QPR’s 2-1 win against Birmingham City – Dunne earns crowning glory as Cifuentes allows players to enjoy vital victory

QPR moved four points clear of the Championship relegation zone after coming from behind to beat Birmingham City 2-1 at Loftus Road.

Here are Dan Evans’ takeaways from the game.


Jimmy Dunne has hardly put a foot wrong since returning to the QPR team for the 1-0 win at Bristol City in the middle of February.

This is perhaps all the more surprising given Marti Cifuentes’ has used him in the unfamiliar position of right-back in the seven games since.

Rangers have only lost one of those games, helping them move up to 18th in the Championship table and four points above the relegation zone.

This victory saw them reach that position, and it was secured in the most spectacular way possible.

After winning the initial header from an Asmir Begovic kick upfield, Dunne controlled the bouncing ball before firing a shot into the top corner of John Ruddy’s net with his weaker left foot.

It was Dunne’s first goal of the season, and only the sixth he has scored across his three seasons at QPR, but it was a strike that most attacking players go their entire careers without matching.

The 26-year-old has noticeably been more involved further up the pitch since his switch to right-back, but this goal came completely out of the blue and caused delirium around Loftus Road.

There have been few suggestions that Dunne will lose his place to established right-back Reggie Cannon any time soon, and this goal will surely see him stay in the team for the next few weeks at least.


QPR failed to win any of the 37 games in which they conceded the first goal before last month’s 2-1 win against Rotherham United.

However, they managed to turn things around that day after falling behind early on, and they repeated the trick against Birmingham on Saturday.

Juninho Bacuna’s goal just after the hour mark briefly saw QPR drop into the relegation zone, but Steve Cook’s equaliser within two minutes helped to settle nerves, and from there it only looked like there would be one winner.

There was nothing inevitable about the nature of Dunne’s spectacular winning goal, but it ensured that the outcome of the game better matched the way it had played out.

QPR had created more chances than the visitors before Bacuna’s opener, and a team in their current predicament could quite easily have been overcome by frustration in a game of such significance.

However, with the tactical identity that Cifuentes is trying to nurture and develop becoming clearer with each passing week – some of Rangers’ pressing without the ball was immense against Birmingham – they now have a foundation to fall back on when things are not going their way.

The QPR head coach is unsurprisingly not getting carried away with seven games still to play this season, but such resilience will surely see his side secure safety in the coming weeks.


If Dunne’s goal was a reward for his good recent form, Steve Cook’s first for the club was more than deserved given the season he has had.

Although it took a second attempt following an initial block, and found the net via a slight deflection on its way past Ruddy, the goal was taken superbly and surely would have earned more plaudits had Dunne produced what he did later on.

Cook has been a vital part of the defensive improvements that have taken place under Cifuentes, and QPR have only managed to win once without him this season in an injury-affected season.

He was impressive once again against Birmingham, making two interceptions, three blocks and five clearances as the visitors threatened sporadically when counterattacking.

The 32-year-old arrived at QPR on a free transfer last summer to little fanfare, yet he is now surely a strong contender for the club’s player of the season award.

Importantly, he has remained fit enough to feature in all of the last 12 matches. Rangers have lost just twice in that time, climbing out of the bottom three and establishing a gap between themselves and the relegation zone.


Given QPR went more than eight months without a home win in 2023, post-match celebrations have often been reserved for the visiting supporters at Loftus Road.

Only bottom-of-the-table Rotherham had won fewer home games than Rangers this season before the Birmingham victory, but it is a record that Cifuentes is steadily improving.

Important wins in W12 against Millwall and Rotherham have been enjoyed by sold out crowds, and Loftus Road remains an intimidating place to play when the team give their fans something to get behind.

Cifuentes has not been one for Jurgen Klopp-style fist pumps after the final whistle, yet he was clearly brimming with emotion following Dunne’s late winner, embracing a number of his players and taking in the acclaim of the Loft End.

Having enjoyed his own moment of celebration, Cifuentes decided to go a step further after most of his players had made their way back to the dressing room.

Racing down the tunnel, Cifuentes encouraged as many of them as possible to head back out on to the pitch and continue enjoying the moment with the QPR supporters.

He explained afterwards that he felt it was the right moment to allow the players and supporters to strengthen their bond but, interestingly, he opted not to join them.

This is likely another sign of the humility Cifuentes has shown since taking over at Loftus Road yet, if QPR go on to secure survival in the coming weeks, there can be no doubt he will deserve his moment in the spotlight.


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