Marti Cifuentes said he would sleep soundly after QPR got the vital win they needed against Preston but warned his players not to ease up.

Lyndon Dykes’ first-half goal secured a 1-0 victory that takes Rangers to 50 points, six above the relegation zone with matches against Leeds and Coventry to finish the season.

Their superior goal difference means their Championship survival will be all but secured if second-bottom Sheffield Wednesday lose at Blackburn on Sunday.

Asked if he believes Saturday’s win will be enough to keep Rangers up, Cifuentes said: “I hope so. Right now it looks like a big step forward.

“But whatever happens in the next games, I think the kind of mindset – the winning culture we need in this club – means that we are going to try to keep winning until the end of the season.

“My mindset is that of course today we took a big step forward in the right direction but until the job is done it’s not done, so we need to make sure that we go into the last two games all-in.

“I’m going to sleep pretty well, that’s for sure. But until the job is done it’s not done.

“I’m very happy for the guys. It was a difficult game with a lot of pressure and we responded.

“We had to win this game. The focus was excellent and I’m very proud of the guys.”

Dykes’ goal was his first in 16 matches for QPR and only his fifth in the league this season.

The striker took advantage to tap into an empty net at the far post after Preston keeper Freddie Woodman spilled Chris Willock’s cross.

“I’m very happy for Lyndon. Today he had one of his best games of the season, if not the best,” Cifuentes said.

“He showed character and personality. Sometimes football is about passion and I think all the guys showed a lot of passion.

“We’ve been talking about the need for ugly goals and he was in the right place at the right time.”

Preston boss Ryan Lowe suggested his players would be hauled in for extra training after their poor performance.

“It wasn’t good enough. Nowhere near the levels,” Lowe said.

“I know it’s a mistake for the goal, but we’ve got to do better all-round, with and without the ball. I didn’t recognise that team as a Preston North End team.

“Back to the drawing board, two games to go, and I don’t want the season to just peter out.

“We felt that today was a game that we could compete in and win. We competed to an extent, but the quality on show from both teams wasn’t great. I expect my team to be better.

“We didn’t sustain attacks, didn’t look after the ball and it wasn’t a performance I felt could win a game of football and I said that to the players.

“They expected to take a few extra days this week but we’ll be back in, back at the training ground working hard, because we’ve got two important games left.

“We’ve got to be solid and resolute – back to being us. Back to being what’s got us this far. We were nowhere near today.”

QPR beat Preston 1-0 at Loftus Road to all but secure Championship safety as Lyndon Dykes ended his goal drought with a first-half winner.

Scotland striker Dykes pounced at the far post after keeper Freddie Woodman spilled Chris Willock’s cross to net his first QPR goal in 16 matches and only his fifth in the league this season.

Victory took Rangers to 50 points, six clear of the relegation zone with two matches of the campaign remaining, but their superior goal difference means the win almost certainly keeps them up.

Results elsewhere earlier on Saturday meant Marti Cifuentes’ side kicked off knowing that a win would effectively end fears of dropping into League One.

They started in determined fashion, with Lucas Andersen firing wide and both Dykes and Ilias Chair shooting well over.

A period of Preston pressure followed and Liam Millar was denied at point-blank range by Rangers keeper Asmir Begovic after exchanging passes with Ben Woodburn.

QPR were suddenly struggling, but were gifted a goal after 20 minutes.

Willock cut in from the left and delivered a cross which seemed like a routine take for Woodman, who inexplicably fumbled the ball to the grateful Dykes.

Woodman somewhat atoned by preventing a Rangers second, diving to his left to push away Willock’s fierce strike.

However, the North End keeper was guilty of another error shortly afterwards when he fumbled Andersen’s corner, but Jake Clarke-Salter’s attempt to force in the loose ball was blocked and Preston managed to scramble it clear.

As Rangers continued to threaten, Dykes won the ball in midfield and was sent through by Chair, but opted to shoot early rather than continue towards goal and his effort went harmlessly wide of the target.

Preston had another let-off in the opening minutes of the second half when Dykes and Kenneth Paal were just unable to get a decisive touch to Willock’s low cross from the right.

The visitors rode their luck again when R’s defender Steve Cook scuffed a shot wide after Preston had failed to deal with Andersen’s corner, and when Woodman flapped at another Andersen corner and his defenders were able to clear.

It was certainly a day to forget for the hapless Woodman, although he did manage to parry headers from Chair and Sam Field before QPR appealed in vain for a penalty when Chair’s cross hit Jordan Storey’s hand.

Preston threatened in the closing stages but the hosts defended well and Cifuentes can now almost allow himself to celebrate a job well done.

Rangers were second bottom of the table, six points from safety and had lost six matches in a row when the Spaniard took over as boss at the end of October following the sacking of Gareth Ainsworth.

Manager Marti Cifuentes called for cool heads after QPR suffered a damaging 3-0 defeat at Hull.

Rangers are three points clear of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone and were outclassed by the Tigers, who still have a slim chance of making the play-offs.

Goals from Ozan Tufan and Fabio Carvalho earned Hull a deserved lead at the break, after which Jaden Philogene added gloss to the scoreline in the second half.

Cifuentes said: “I was really disappointed with the result. We played against a very good team and they showed their quality after we made a good start to the game.

“I am now not thinking about the narrative of this game – now it is time to move on.

“Now is the time to stay calm. We have three games to go – two of them at home – so it is up to us.

“I have been saying it (safety) could be (decided) until the last minute of the season.

“Five months ago, perhaps even one month ago, we could only dream (to be 19th in the table).

“People thought this would be a walk in the park but that is not the case.

“It’s up to us. We need to remain together and keep pushing.”

QPR’s away form has been strong since Cifuentes arrived at the club, but they were unable to match Hull’s tempo from the outset.

Tufan’s brilliant strike from distance after eight minutes set the tone of a one-sided game.

The Turkey international’s smart assist after then allowed Carvalho the chance to convert a smart one-on-one – and essentially put the game out of sight after 27 minutes.

Rangers improved marginally after the restart but they could never lay a glove on the hosts and conceded a third when Philogene executed a perfect half-volley from the left of the penalty area.

Cifuentes said: “The main difference was that, in some moments, they were better than us in front of goal.

“We have three games to go, and we have to keep working.

“Despite creating a lot of chances, we are not scoring and, instead, we are getting punished because of small mistakes.

“The guys have showed a big development in the last four months.

“I see a team still competing and not giving up, even when we were 3-0 down.

“We now have an important game against Preston next Saturday and it is time to move on.”

Hull’s home form has been the big issue this season – they have won just eight times at the MKM Stadium – but they are six points adrift of sixth-placed Norwich with a game in hand.

Head coach Liam Rosenior said: “Our performance level was not dissimilar to Middlesbrough (a 1-1 draw on Wednesday).

“But the difference was in both boxes. We were clinical and ruthless and the players showed their quality.

“We dominated the game, controlled the game – some of our football was excellent.

“That’s what I’ve been working so hard to do since I re-joined the cub.

“We were very, very good. If we play at the level for the next four games we are going to be a very, very difficult side to play against.”

Rosenior added: “Some of our interlinking play now is a joy to watch.

“The players I have in the attacking positions are in form and that needs to continue.

“There are still things to iron out – we still need things to improve – but we’ve got to win the next game.

“That’s all we are focussed on doing. We’re in a good place. We have to focus on what we can do.

“We just need to make sure that if there are any slip-ups, we are there to pounce.”

Hull kept alive their faint chances of reaching the Sky Bet Championship play-offs with a 3-0 win over QPR, who remain in deep relegation trouble.

Ozan Tufan’s wonderful solo effort from 20 yards and Fabio Carvalho’s cool one-on-one finish put the Tigers in control at the break.

Jaden Philogene then put the seal on a dominating home performance with a sweet half-volley after 52 minutes.

Hull, who were claiming just an eighth home victory of the season, are six points adrift of sixth-place Norwich – but with a game in hand.

QPR also have work to do, but for far differing reasons as they are now two points clear of the relegation zone.

With just one away league defeat since December 29, it was unsurprising that Marti Cifuentes’ men were quickly into the stride against a Hull side who have this season been hamstrung by their form at the MKM Stadium.

The visitors’ early vigour was, however, soon curtained when Tufan scored after eight minutes.

The Turkey international was firstly given too much space by Jimmy Dunne near the left-hand corner of the penalty area.

Dunne also seemed complacent to the danger when Tufan cut inside before striking fiercely with his right boot.

The ball screwed over the head of Asmir Begovic, battered the underside of the crossbar and landed into the top-right corner of the net.

QPR looked shell-shocked and never recovered.

And they might have gone further behind soon afterwards had Philogene and Carvalho not been guilty of poor decision-making in good areas.

Carvalho, though, impressively made amends after 27 minutes with a lovely second goal.

Tufan again played a key role with a cute first-time pass around the corner that outfoxed centre-backs Steve Cook and Jake Clarke-Salter.

Carvalho controlled beautifully and never looked like missing from the edge of the penalty box once Begovic came rushing too far off his line.

QPR brought on Reggie Cannon and Paul Smyth at the break, and the double substitution nearly yielded immediate dividends when the latter somehow headed wide Illias Chair’s cross from close range.

But Rangers’ slim hopes of getting back into the game sailed into the River Humber when Philogene scored another excellent goal once Tufan’s free-kick was partially headed clear by Sam Field.

The former Aston Villa winger, 10 yards out toward the left of box, showed laudable composure to cushion a textbook half-volley into the right of the goal.

QPR might have added a consolation soon afterwards when Jacob Graves cleared off Hull’s line after Chair waltzed past two defends and goalkeeper Ryan Allsop.

Yet that was as good as it got for Rangers, who will need to improve markedly to avoid a nervous end to the season.

Hull, who nearly scored a fourth when substitute Liam Delap’s 76th-minute lob was headed off the line by Cannon, could also be set for a dramatic finish to the campaign on this evidence.

Plymouth director of football Neil Dewsnip praised his side for their “never say die” attitude after claiming a late leveller in a 1-1 Championship draw with relegation-rivals QPR.

Albert Adomah scored an 85th-minute own goal as Argyle piled on the pressure from a later corner after Sam Field had fired Rangers into a 73rd-minute lead following a goalmouth scramble in which home goalkeeper Michael Cooper made two incredible saves.

Dewsnip said: “When QPR scored, the team had to show incredible resilience. ‘Never say die’ is a part of the culture here. The team were superb and the fans fantastic.”

Managerless Argyle slipped to 20th as a result to sit just two points above the relegation zone, but Dewsnip said: “We see it as a point gained at home not an opportunity missed as that’s now four points in two games.

“It means momentum is changing and we go again on Friday. I like to look forward so hopefully we will score more than one on Friday.

“We will look forward rather than backwards. I see the point as a positive point, we are going the right direction again.

“Michael (Cooper) has been injured but he is getting sharper game by game and made some superb saves again tonight, as he did at Rotherham.

“All the players were superb tonight. Michael had a fantastic game, Adam Randell did, Dan Scarr, Lewis Gibson but I could go on and on and name every one of them because I thought they all played their part in a tremendous performance.

“Friday night against Leicester is huge. The players will recover now and then we all go again on Friday.”

QPR head coach Marti Cifuentes – whose side hover four points above the bottom three – said: “It was disappointing not to win as we did enough to win the game. We needed to score a second (goal).

“That’s always going to be the target at 1-0. We not only created chances to win the game but enough to close the game out.

“I have mentioned this not once, not twice that unfortunately, it’s something we have experienced many times this season.

“And then you know if the opposition get a half-chance in this type of situation they will score and that’s exactly what happened.

“For us today it was important for us to react in a strong way after losing and I am delighted to say that’s what we did.

“After we scored we kept pushing hard for a second and I know if we carry on playing this way we are going to win football matches.

“I don’t usually look at the table. Tonight it was about the last five games.

“Now we have four games left and I want to win all of them. We need to keep on pushing, we need more points.

“Our focus is on the next game and we know that Hull will be difficult because they are chasing the play-offs but there are no easy games in this division.

“We have to make sure that collectively we recover from this one and be well prepared to go again.”

QPR head coach Marti Cifuentes admits he was “disappointed” not to secure victory as his side had to settle for a goalless draw against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Neither goalkeeper had much to do throughout the afternoon and the biggest chances of the game fell to the visitors, with their best opportunity falling to Chris Willock in the 87th minute.

Sinclair Armstrong played a low ball to the unmarked Willock in the box, but goalkeeper Anthony Patterson made a superb save and Cifuentes believes his side provided enough to at least score one goal.

“The game was more or less what we wanted, we didn’t allow Sunderland to get a shot on goal for 95 minutes,” the QPR boss said.

“I don’t think we created as much as we would have liked, but maybe enough to get a goal, or at least two goals. I think Patterson was great in saving two situations.

“(They were) very good saves, but overall very disappointed about not getting the victory.”

QPR had chances from Ilias Chair and Lucas Andersen in the first half, but the introduction of Armstrong after the break provided more spark.

He was denied three times by Patterson in the second half and Cifuentes hailed the forward’s importance to the team.

Cifuentes said: “It was a game where we were thinking the whole week if he should start the game or not.

“When he comes on as a sub he has a great impact in these games with the big pitch, perhaps the defensive lines who try to play higher on the pitch and I think he did a great job.”

A point ended Sunderland’s run of six successive Sky Bet Championship defeats, but they were unable to threaten the QPR defence much throughout the match.

The injury-hit Black Cats had half-chances from Adil Aouchiche and Dan Neil, but interim head coach Mike Dodds believes his side showed “no real quality” in the match.

“People are going to say it’s a point and it stops the chain of events we’ve had for the last six games, but the performance I was really disappointed with,” Dodds said.

“Both first half and second half I felt we huffed and puffed but had no real quality in the game.

“I’ve got to keep working with them, they’re a group that need help. A large part of that responsibility is myself.

“I think you will naturally get some help when you get bodies back, but I thought that was a real naive performance.

“I think in the last four games I’ve sat here in probably three of them and tried not to spin positives, but tried to look at pockets of the game which I really liked.

“There wasn’t a huge amount that I liked about that game.

“We’re going to have some bodies back for Easter weekend, everyone can see that will be a huge boost for the group.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes remains “convinced” the club will avoid relegation despite their recent resurgence being ended by a 2-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough.

Rangers, unbeaten in their previous four matches – which included a win at leaders Leicester and Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with West Brom – faded in the second half at Loftus Road, where goals from Emmanuel Latte Lath and Marcus Forss gave Boro the points.

Cifuentes’ side recently climbed out of the relegation zone, where they had been since September, but remain just one point above second-bottom Sheffield Wednesday.

“Trust me, I don’t need a defeat to have a reality check. It’s a really difficult situation,” Cifuentes said.

“I’m convinced that we’re going to manage to reach the target, but if anyone thought it was easy they were making a big mistake.

“I’m not a magician. I’m here to help. But to expect we’re going to win every game is delusional. It’s going to be tough.”

A win would have been a massive boost for Rangers in their battle to stay up but, after being the better team for much of the first half, they ran out of ideas and energy in the second.

Cifuentes admitted: “We have a sad feeling because it’s true that we had big expectations about this game and we didn’t perform – not even close to the last game.

“We had a very demanding game on Wednesday, emotionally and physically, and Middlesbrough played 60 minutes against 10 men against Norwich, so perhaps that’s one of the reasons they looked more energetic in the second half.

“It’s very demanding when you have three games in just a few days and especially when you have Leicester away and West Brom, which were very demanding.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick believes back-to-back wins have underlined the fighting spirit of his players.

Boro lost four out of their five matches prior to the recent upturn but are eight points away from the play-off places and still in with a slim chance of promotion.

Carrick said: “I keep saying about the spirit of the boys. It’s easy when you’re winning to say that, but when you have a tough spell – and we’ve had a couple of tough spells – you see people’s characters and their real personalities.

“The boys have been incredible in terms of sticking together and finding a way through it.

“It’s two big results for us. There’s no getting away from that. The timing of the two results has been good and we’ve got two games coming up before the international break that we need to make the most of.”

Latte Lath broke the deadlock after 64 minutes as Rangers were unable to clear a free-kick and Matt Clarke nudged the ball towards the Ivorian striker, who sent a right-footed volley past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and into the corner of the net.

Forss doubled the lead 12 minutes later following a counter-attack.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game but what mattered most was the spirit and willingness to work for each other,” said Carrick.

“I’m delighted. To find a way to grind out a win was pleasing. The boys did what they needed to do to get the win.

“It was a case of having the belief and backing themselves to go and win the game.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes refused to point the finger at the match officials after a controversial 2-2 draw at home to West Brom.

Trailing 2-1 early in the second half, relegation-threatened Rangers missed a penalty and should have been awarded another.

Michael Frey’s spot-kick was saved by Alex Palmer shortly before Sam Field’s header appeared to have been superbly tipped over by the goalkeeper or cleared off the line by defender Cedric Kipre.

However, replays showed that Kipre used his hand – an offence which would almost certainly have resulted in a red card as well as a penalty had it been spotted.

Justice was done when Field, who also scored the first goal, headed in a late equaliser against his former club to earn a point.

“I’ve been told that West Brom played with two keepers for a while,” Cifuentes quipped.

“I’m not here to complain. I’m here to make sure my team is better, so if we need to play against two keepers then we need to practice playing against two keepers.

“Football is a game with mistakes and unfortunately refs can make mistakes as well. They have a very difficult job – the second most difficult job, after being a manager.

“On the pitch I thought their keeper made an amazing save – I mean the real keeper. That shows you how difficult the referee’s job is. I was shown it (on video) afterwards.”

The draw moved Rangers up a place, to 19th in the Championship, and extended their unbeaten run to four matches.

“We created a lot of chances and could have scored more goals,” Cifuentes said.

“We need to be brave and have belief in ourselves. When we are brave then we play better.

“I’m sure that we are going to pick up points between now and the end of the season. I see progress.”

Play-off hopefuls West Brom extended their cushion over seventh-placed Norwich to five points.

Boss Carlos Corberan said: “I’m pleased with a point, because for me a point was the maximum result we could have achieved today. The value of the point is very high.

“Of course you don’t want to (have to) defend as much as we were defending in the second half. We want to attack more and not concede that number of chances.

“For me, analysing this game, the best way to defend was to attack. In the first half we attacked enough but in the second half when we lost the ball we were close to losing the game.

“We were defending a lot. They had a lot of set-pieces and we weren’t active enough to stop them. They had more clear chances than the (second) goal.

“We lost the ball more times than we should have and gave them the option to attack us. We defended a lot and it was not enough to stop them.”

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca said his team will need to be mentally strong after losing the last three Championship games and seeing their lead at the top of the table cut to just three points.

QPR produced a shock result at the King Power Stadium as goals from Ilias Chair and Sinclair Armstrong earned them a 2-1 win that boosts their hopes of avoiding relegation.

Leicester pulled a back through defender Ben Nelson’s first senior goal but they could not find an equaliser and both Ipswich and Leeds are closing in on the leaders.

“It’s a bad feeling. In the last three defeats, we dominated with the chances but the most important thing is to score goals. We lacked quality in the last third,” said Maresca.

“I don’t think it was a matter of being nervous, I didn’t have this feeling from the players. With 11 games to go, we need to finish in the best way.

“It’s been long time since we have been at the top and everyone is chasing us, we can’t think about that, we just need to win games.

“When you drop points and the rest win, you see yourself that they are coming, but we need balance at the moment. You cannot be so happy or so sad.

“If you get too nervous it could be dangerous, if you relax, it could be dangerous. You have to be mentally strong because we have a game in three days (at Sunderland).”

QPR manager Marti Cifuentes praised his players, but said a “great escape” is still not complete after a third successive win, which only lifted them one place up the table and leaves them outside the bottom three only on goal difference.

“We performed at a really high level against a team that is extremely good. They are a very good side with a fantastic coach and I’m sure they will go up despite the last three defeats,” said Cifuentes.

“All the credit to the players because they were very well organised for a long time. We were clinical as we had to be.

“I thought Leicester would be more dangerous and angry after the last two defeats.

“It was an important win for us, but I’m not getting carried away with a victory. The reality is the table shows we are still in a big battle. To get out and achieve this great escape, there is still a lot more to be done.”

Cifuentes praised Chair for opening the scoring. The Morocco international has continued to feature amid reports he faces a year in prison after being found guilty in Belgium of assault, with QPR saying on February 23 that “the legal proceeding is yet to reach its conclusion”.

The Spanish coach added: “I am very pleased with Ilias and the rest of the players so I am not talking much about other things that the club had already commented on. I am pleased about his goal and he is a very important player for us.”

Cifuentes was also delighted with 20-year-old forward Armstrong, who scored with his first touch after coming on as a 57th-minute substitute.

“It was a fantastic first touch, a fantastic way to start the game for him, he gave us exactly what we were looking for,” he said.

QPR head coach Marti Cifuentes praised a quality goal and an impressive performance after his team boosted their Championship survival hopes with a deserved 1-0 victory at Bristol Rovers.

Ilias Chair’s cool finish, passing the ball into the net from Lucas Andersen’s 42nd-minute cross, was enough to lift the visitors to within one point of fourth-from-bottom Millwall.

The visitors defended their lead with organisation and tenacity in the second half, showing the sort of character they will need to escape the drop.

And a delighted Cifuentes said: “I know we have the necessary spirit to move up the table and it was evident today.

“Our goal came from two quality players combining. Ilias Chair is already a top player for us, but I have told him he has the ability to do even greater things.

“Lucas Andersen also has a lot of quality and it was good to see them working together to create the chance.

“But every member of the team deserved credit for a tremendous performance against very good opponents.

“Bristol (City) had beaten Southampton in the week and we knew how tough it would be to come here and win.

“We worked on certain things to combat their strengths and it was important we bounced back quickly from a poor performance against Stoke.

“It sums up the Championship that Bristol (City) were so good in midweek and yet we were able to restrict them to very few chances today.

“What’s so difficult is to put together consistent performances and results. That is what we must be aiming for in our remaining games.

“Today we have been very good, but being like that for one game is not enough.”

City head coach Liam Manning admitted it was a rare off-day for his team, who have been closing in on the play-off positions.

“From the start, we never got going,” he said. “Collectively – and that includes me with the changes I made – we were not good enough.

“It has been a really hectic schedule since Christmas and perhaps that showed physically and mentally today.

“It’s not an excuse because top teams like Manchester City cope with tough programmes. But they have some of the best players in the world.

“We will give our lads tomorrow and Monday off because I think a short rest will do them good.

“Then it will be back to prepare for our next game. We knew we would have to cope with expectation levels today after our win against Southampton.

“Queens Park Rangers are a better side than their league position suggests. I watched them and was aware that we would be in for a very tough game.

“The players are as frustrated as myself because we can be so much better. But they are an honest group and I have nothing but praise for their efforts in recent weeks.”

City lost young striker Sam Bell with a hamstring injury after only 22 minutes and Manning added: “We won’t be sure how serious it is until we get a scan, but obviously it didn’t look good.”

Steven Schumacher hopes Stoke’s “important” 1-0 win over fellow strugglers QPR lifts the confidence of his side.

Wouter Burger’s strike before half time was the difference as the Potters ended a four-match losing streak.

The Dutch youngster, who also scored in the reverse fixture, converted the winner with a tap-in from Lewis Baker’s corner.

In the process, Schumacher secured a first home league win as boss and the club’s first at the bet365 Stadium since October.

With victory, Stoke gave themselves daylight from the relegation zone as they moved six points above the dotted line.

“We were all aware of how important the game was,” noted the Potters’ boss.

“It was an important win and a tough game against a team close to us in the league.

“The performance isn’t one that we’ll remember forever and the game wasn’t a classic, but to get that win at home was so important.

“It’s relentless and it’s important that we back it up now and I hope that that result gives the players some confidence.

“It’s not been easy to play here all season and it’s been too long since we’ve won (at home), so hopefully that stigma has gone.

“We’ve played a lot better since I’ve been here than we did tonight but that doesn’t matter; we got the win and the fans go home happy.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to come to a realisation of what’s important at certain stages.

“The results haven’t been what we wanted, so we changed our shape and played more direct and we were harder to beat.

“At this stage of the season and as a coach you’ve got to recognise what’s important and the win was what was all that mattered today.

“But we can’t relax now; it’s only one win and the league is still really tight.”

Meanwhile, the travelling Hoops could only muster one shot on target as their four-match unbeaten run ended.

QPR remain entrenched in the relegation zone as they drift to four points from safety.

“I’m disappointed,” said boss Marti Cifuentes.

“We had some good chances in the first half to take the lead but unfortunately, we went 1-0 down after a corner.

“They played a back-five and they showed respect to us and we couldn’t get the flow we wanted, especially in the second half.

“It was not easy for us to break them down. Still, we tried to compete to the very last second but it was just one of those games.

“Today was a very important game in terms of the table but at the same time, whatever happened today, it wasn’t going to be a season changer.

“We need to stay very calm; we’re of course disappointed and angry, but we were unbeaten for four games and perhaps someone could think this would be easy.

“When I arrived at the club, we were eight points away and the team is showing improvements almost every week.

“I do believe in what we’re doing and I think that the team is showing that we can compete every game.

“My target now is to make sure we get a new trend of good results to pick up the points that we need.

“In less than three months at the club, we’ve had two good trends so I’m sure we can have another one.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes is hopeful his side’s new signings can keep the club in the Championship after they combined to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Norwich.

Swiss striker Michael Frey headed in a cross from fellow pre-deadline signing Lucas Andersen to earn the west London side a draw.

Meanwhile, loan signings Isaac Hayden and Joe Hodge impressed in midfield, giving head coach Cifuentes plenty of encouragement in the battle to avoid relegation.

The Spaniard said: “I’m very happy for the new players. I think that all of them are showing they are great professionals.

“These four players are coming from situations where we will need to take into account that they will perhaps need a couple of weeks to be at their best version, but I’m happy with them.

“The assist from Lucas to Frey was brilliant. All of them are giving good performances for us.

“They need match fitness but they’ve shown fantastic performances and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do together with the rest of the guys.

“We definitely feel like we’re stronger now than we were before.”

QPR took the lead through Jack Colback’s opener but Norwich hit back with second-half goals from Kenny McLean and Josh Sargent.

Frey’s leveller meant third-bottom Rangers closed the gap on Huddersfield, the team immediately above them, to two points.

“I can never be happy with just a point, but we played against a strong team that scored two quality goals,” said Cifuentes.

“We managed to have good moments, both in the first half and the second, and I want to praise the attitude and the mentality of the guys.

“It’s not easy to be behind at home in the situation that we are in. But we had the mental strength and capacity to keep on pushing – and after the equaliser from Frey we still tried to go for the victory.”

Norwich boss David Wagner was left to rue a miss by Ashley Barnes shortly before QPR’s equaliser.

“Performance-wise, OK. Intensity and energy, top. Result, a little bit frustrating,” said Wagner.

“But I think it’s a positive if we are frustrated at getting a point away from home against QPR in a game where we have come back from one down.

“Unfortunately we didn’t score the third one where Barnsey had a great opportunity. Then we conceded a sloppy goal, which cost us.

“Our biggest challenge today was not to get too emotional and to stay calm. I think when we did that we looked very good in possession and were able to break them down and create opportunities.

“So I’m a little bit frustrated that we haven’t won this game, because it was possible. We should be fair also and say that performance-wise this was OK.

“Unfortunately it’s only a point. I think it’s OK if there’s a little bit of frustration about only getting the point after being 1-0 down at half-time away from home.

“We should look at the performance as well. You only have positive results if you perform consistently and this is what the players have done in recent weeks.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes is preparing for a vital match against fellow strugglers Huddersfield after his side ended their winless run by beating Millwall.

A 2-0 success at Loftus Road was Rangers’ first victory in eight Sky Bet Championship matches and lifted them up a place, to third from bottom.

And it means they will climb out of the relegation zone if they beat Huddersfield – the team immediately above them – next weekend.

Cifuentes said: “We need to keep on working. Today we are very happy, but we know that we have a very important game next week here again.

“We need to be very focused on the task. The next target is to win against Huddersfield.

“Enjoy the victory today – it was very important for us – and from tomorrow start to prepare for a massive game against Huddersfield at home. Feet on the ground and keep on working.

“I’m aware that no matter what the result next week it is going to be a huge task. It’s an important game but, step by step, we need to get a lot of victories, not just next week.”

Rangers struggled to create clear-cut chances before Chair broke the deadlock in the 27th minute.

They defended well and their win was sealed by Sinclair Armstrong netting a late second.

Cifuentes added: “In all the games that we’ve played, we never gave up and I never felt – even in the worst games we played – that the team was accepting the defeat.

“We have been close in all the games since I took over. We’ve always been in games but haven’t had the clinical touch.

“Today we did, and that made things easier. You could feel the tension, London derby, but definitely the first goal gave us the calm that we needed and from there we played at a very good level.

“Today’s victory was a consequence of a lot of small things we have been doing well over the last few games but unfortunately not getting the points.”

Millwall boss Joe Edwards admitted that his team’s disappointing performance felt like a step backwards.

The Lions won three matches in a row soon after Edwards’ recent appointment but have now suffered back-to-back league defeats.

“In pretty much every department we were not good enough and that’s incredibly frustrating,” Edwards said.

“It can be really frustrating when it feels like there’s a lot of good work going on, good performances, progress and signs we’re building, and then today out of nowhere you have a performance like that.

“QPR are in a difficult position and they came out fighting, particularly in the second half, and we couldn’t match it.

“The flow of our attacks in recent weeks – we’ve been ripping through teams and today we didn’t do that.

“Today we became predictable very early on and I’m not sure why. QPR grew into the game, whereas we just got stuck in our half and played predictable football, which was absolutely not our plan.

“QPR didn’t start well and we settled quickly, but it was like that lulled us into a false sense of security. We were then unable to break into any kind of intensity.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes insists he never doubted Chris Willock would rediscover his best form.

The rejuvenated Willock scored the opener in Rangers’ 2-0 win at home to Hull – a thumping strike from near the edge of the penalty area.

It was his third goal in as many matches and his team’s third win in a row.

They have lost just one of their six matches since Cifuentes replaced the sacked Gareth Ainsworth.

Previously Rangers’ talisman, Willock was shunned by Ainsworth while fellow playmaker Ilias Chair, who scored the all-important second goal against the Tigers, also found the going tough under the former boss.

“He (Willock) showed the quality he has. But I’m not surprised – I said from day one that Chris and Ilias will be very important for us,” said Cifuentes.

“I’m pleased about Chris recovering a smile, because I felt he was a bit low on confidence.

“That was very natural when a player has not been playing for a while. Now he is playing at a level where it’s not easy to take the ball from him and he’s also working hard when we don’t have the ball.

“He’s starting to be decisive for us in the last third and I think he is a player that, with his quality and potential, he can score more than he has done earlier in his career.”

Asked how he has helped Willock get back to his best, Cifuentes replied: “Give him minutes and give him confidence. And give him game scenarios where we think he is going to be good.

“It’s not a secret. If you have good players and you put them on the ball and put them high up the pitch, then things are going to happen. When those players are close to the goal it’s difficult to stop them.”

Hull boss Liam Rosenior admitted his team were punished for their mistakes.

Willock’s goal, scored in first-half stoppage time, came after the visitors had lost possession.

Back-to-back defeats have seen the Tigers drop out of the play-off places following an excellent start to the campaign.

And Rosenior said: “We’ve made a lot of progress, but the next step for this team is to be pragmatic in key moments and understand the context of the game.

“At that point of the game we had complete control and then gave them a goal. It was a great finish from Willock but it comes from our possession.

“A goal just before half-time changes everything in terms of QPR’s confidence levels and energy from the crowd.”

The second goal came after Hull keeper Ryan Allsop had been pressured by Sinclair Armstrong, with Willock collecting the resulting loose ball and teeing up Chair for a cool finish.

Rosenior said: “I ask my team to play, but at that moment we’re on top – just kick the ball and if it goes out for a throw-in then we reorganise and get control of the game again.

“What I will never do is blame players for mistakes. But what I will do is demand from them that we learn from the mistakes.

“There’s so much good in the way we play, if we iron out those mistakes then we’re in a really good place.

“This is the understanding of where we are as a team. We’re a young team that have to learn on the job. But the basis of our play is very good.”

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes was thrilled with how Ilias Chair channelled his frustration at not starting by creating both goals in the 2-0 win over Preston at Deepdale.

Struggling Rangers have now won two in a row for the first time all season, under recently-appointed boss Cifuentes, who feels his side are starting to find their feet.

And it was the half-time introduction of Moroccan international Chair that made the difference at Deepdale, as the midfielder set up Paul Smyth and Chris Willock in the second half.

The manager said: “I spoke to Ilias at half-time and told him we desperately needed fresh legs out there.

“He wasn’t happy that he hadn’t started the game of course, but that’s what I want.

“I want players here who are disappointed to be on the bench.

“He’s got lots of really strong attributes and he was terrific. I felt confident at half-time that he could contribute.

“The identity of the team is really coming on.

“It’s great to be winning, and though it is small steps at this stage of the season, I can see real progress since I came to the job.

“I’m not looking at the league table at the moment.

“It’s far too early for that.

“Maybe in April we’ll look and see where we are, but for now, it’s just about trying to pick up as many points as possible.

“The team is performing well right now, and we don’t necessarily have to be dominant all the time.

“I’m pleased that I can see a clear picture now of how we want to play.

“I’ll be using all the players, and that can be the difference as we move further into the season.”

Preston missed the chance to move back into the top six as they slumped to a third straight loss, despite Ched Evans having the best chance of the opening stages, tamely shooting straight at Asmir Begovic from Mads Frokjaer’s cross.

Duane Holmes also looked lively for Preston, but one of his dangerous crosses was just beyond Will Keane as neither side could find a way through on a bitterly cold evening.

The introduction of Chair proved the difference, his dangerous in-swinging cross poked home from close range by Smyth.

Freddie Woodman then denied the Moroccan a goal of his own, but he ensured they would come away with all three points, crossing for the unmarked Willock to seal the deal three minutes from time, leaving Preston boss Ryan Lowe with plenty to ponder.

He said: “It’s a tough one to take.

“Both teams were a little bit flat I thought, especially in that first half, but we needed to raise our game maybe 10 or 15 per cent, and we just didn’t do that over the course of the rest of the game.

“They raised their game in the second half, and this is what happens.

“Overall we’re all very disappointed, but I’m scratching my head a bit right now.”

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