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Brown heads late winner as O'Neill works the oracle

Sunderland were superb for around an hour at Loftus Road, hopeless for around 25 minutes, and then, for the second time in Martin O'Neill's short reign, managed to conjure a winner.

Mental strength or mental frailty? At the moment, it is hard to tell. Still, O'Neill's Sunderland are beginning to look a subtly different team from the one that flailed and ultimately failed under Steve Bruce.

The signs are there that the professor has managed to impart some of his considerable wisdom to his players.

A 19th-minute corner gave Sunderland the opener. Kieran Richardson took it, Nicklas Bendtner muscled past Matt Connolly and headed home from two yards and the score stayed that way until half-time.

On 53 minutes, a catastrophically misjudged header by QPR's Daniel Gabbidon landed in the path of Stephane Sessegnon, who held off Luke Young before rounding former Irish 'keeper Paddy Kenny and slotting the ball into an empty net.

All that was required was for Sunderland to see the game out.

Instead an aberration from another Irish 'keeper, Kieren Westwood, threatened to turn the match on its head.

His attempt to push the ball away from Alejandro Faurlin's cross parried against QPR's Heidar Helguson and ricocheted over the line. Worse was to come just four minutes later as Helguson unselfishly headed back across the box at the far post for Jamie Mackie to make it 2-2.

But it was QPR left clutching the short straw a minute from time.

Richardson's corner was headed back across goal, from where the former Manchester United defender Wes Brown was on hand to secure al three points in a night of high drama. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent