QPR's hopes of beating the drop received a major blow as Harry Kane underlined his England credentials with a match-winning brace for Tottenham.
The attention of those at both ends of the Premier League were focused on Loftus Road, where the teams involved knew defeat could prove a defining moment in their season.
In the end, Kane proved the difference in a tense, entertaining battle, scoring either side of half-time to take his tally to 26 goals in all competitions in front of Roy Hodgson, securing Spurs a 2-1 win which moved them within three points of the top four.
Sandro's late strike meant his former side had to ride out a late storm, but QPR were unable to avoid falling to a seventh defeat in eight league games.
Things could have been so different had Charlie Austin found the net with some decent first-half chances and had his team-mates defended better for Kane's opening goal, which came seconds after fans chanted "You're just a s*** Charlie Austin" at him.
Rio Ferdinand, Nedum Onuoha and Robert Green were all culpable as the 21-year-old was allowed to nod home a free-kick unmarked, while the defence was again found wanting as Kane was all too easily allowed to run through to net.
QPR did have several penalty claims of varying strengths before and after Kane's second and a fine strike from Sandro led to a tense ending, yet Chris Ramsey's men were unable to avoid a defeat that leaves them three points from safety.
The Hoops started well enough against the club he spent nine years with, as Bobby Zamora saw a powerful header tipped over by Hugo Lloris.
It was soon QPR counterpart Green earning the plaudits, denying a glancing header from Kane - the best Spurs could muster in a dominant but toothless start.
The hosts grew into the match and would have gone ahead in the 19th minute had Lloris not denied Austin from close range and saved Kyle Walker's blushes after an error.
Matt Phillips and Sandro had attempts as the hosts continued to press, with Austin then wriggling free and hitting hit a rasping left-footed strike off the underside of the bar.
QPR's best period of the half soon came to an abrupt end, though. Kane was goaded by the home fans after winning a free-kick on the right - chants he shoved down their throats by scoring from the resulting set piece.
Andros Townsend's ball into the box caused havoc, with Onuoha losing Kane after Ferdinand stopped tracking him and Green failing to beat the unmarked front man to the ball.
The Rs goalkeeper stopped Spurs from doubling their lead as half-time approached after a Walker effort took a deflection, while at the other end Ramsey's men felt they should have had a penalty when Lloris appeared to catch Mauricio Isla.
Referee Craig Pawson waved play on and both Zamora and Austin had efforts as half-time approached - a period from which Tottenham returned the stronger.
Christian Eriksen was not having one of his greatest games but produced a moment of magic two minutes in, with a wonderful, curling right-footed strike coming back off the post from 25 yards.
Kane's attempt to net the rebound went well wide and Townsend was next to threaten the club he spent such a fruitful loan spell with, before QPR at last appeared to wake from their slumber.
Zamora used his strength to shake off Eric Dier before thumping a goalbound shot Lloris did well to stop.
The striker was aggrieved soon after not to have been given a penalty having been grappled to the ground by Vertonghen, but by that point Austin had produced an incredible goal-line clearance to deny Eriksen at the other end.
Tempers frayed with Pochettino entering the field to help break up an altercation between Karl Henry and Ryan Mason, who would soon set-up Spurs' second.
As impressive as his through-ball was, it was embarrassingly easy for Kane to get behind the QPR defence, before showing impressive composure to round Green and slot home.
Hush fell upon Loftus Road but the volume soon ratcheted up a notch as Sandro fired home from the edge of the box.
Austin appealed vociferously for a penalty against Nabil Bentaleb and Junior Hoilett turned over as QPR pushed for a leveller, but it was not to be to the audible frustration of the home fans.