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Charlie Austin grabs a hat-trick as QPR move out of bottom three


Queens Park Rangers' Charlie Austin scores his side's third goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Loftus Road

Queens Park Rangers' Charlie Austin scores his side's third goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Loftus Road

Queens Park Rangers' Charlie Austin scores his side's third goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Loftus Road

Charlie Austin returned from suspension to steal the show with a hat-trick as QPR recovered from two goals down at home to West Brom to win 3-2 and move out of the Barclays Premier League bottom three.

The striker was missing from the defeat at Everton on Monday night but moved on to 11 goals for the season as he hit three to see off a West Brom side which had stunned Loftus Road with a scintillating start.

Harry Redknapp's side looked like the QPR of old in the opening exchanges, gifting chances and possession to West Brom and operating with no defensive cohesion.

West Brom took full advantage and raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of first Baggies' goals for both Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela.

But, having given their fellow relegation-candidates a head-start, QPR showed the resolve to keep their chins up and dig themselves out of trouble.

And it was that man Austin who was the hero of the piece once again, first tucking away a penalty three minutes after Varela's strike, then turning home from close-range early in the second half and heading home an 85th minute winner to lift QPR to 15th in the table.

With no points on the road this season, Redknapp knows survival will come down to results at Loftus Road and his side have now taken a maximum of nine points from a string of home games against Leicester, Burnley and now Alan Irvine's side.

The visitors were quickly out of the traps and took advantage of a sluggish opening 20 minutes for QPR, deservedly scoring twice to take control of the contest.

Craig Gardner drifted into the Rangers box unmarked with just two minutes on the clock but the impressive Rob Green pushed his shot away.

Brown Ideye blazed over when picked out in the middle of goal by Stephane Sessegnon but, with the hosts surrendering possession needlessly on too many occasions, it did not take long for Irvine's side to take the lead.

A near-post corner from Sebastien Pocognoli was flicked on by Sessegnon and was headed home by Lescott after the former Manchester City man easily escaped the attention of Richard Dunne.

The goal did not act as a wake-up call for the QPR defence and they were two behind 10 minutes later as Varela burst forward unchallenged before exchanging passes with Sessegnon and slotting home his first goal since joining on loan from Porto.

The Hoops were handed a lifeline shortly afterwards as referee Craig Pawson did well to spot James Morrison pulling back Leroy Fer as the Holland international stretched to tap home a loose ball.

Austin was on hand to thrash home the resulting penalty and halve the arrears with his seventh goal in eight appearances and he almost levelled the game on the half-hour mark but, after linking up well with the recalled Bobby Zamora, his drive was easy for Ben Foster to deal with.

At the other end, Green was busy keeping his side in the contest, tipping a deflected Gardner free-kick behind and then reacting well to prevent Sessegnon hammering home at this near-post.

Austin and Eduardo Vargas both passed up half-chances before the break but it did not take long for Austin to once again provide the heroics after the interval.

From their first attack, Dunne headed a corner against the crossbar but Zamora reacted quickest and nodded back to Austin, who bundled home to cancel out West Brom's two-goal lead.

Captain Joey Barton saw calls for a second penalty turned away by Pawson as QPR started the second half with the urgency and commitment lacking in the opening minutes.

The game opened up but neither side could muster a clear-cut chance until Austin was played in by substitute Junior Hoilett with a little over 10 minutes remaining but this time Foster kept out his effort.

But, having been the main man for Rangers for much of the season, Austin handed his manager an early Christmas present as he headed home Barton's corner.

West Brom rallied and hit a post through substitute Saido Berahino's last-minute attempt but could not hit back as QPR continue their fine home form - with all of their 17 points accrued at Loftus Road.