Massimo Cellino chose to end his self-imposed absence at Loftus Road, but as he sat in the directors box, he will have been questioning why he bothered.
Leeds offered little throughout the game, and it only took the introduction of Charlie Austin to break their resolve, the striker scoring only two minutes after coming onto the pitch, heading home from a corner kick in the simplest manner possible.
It was symbolic that Liam Bridcutt was booked less than ten minutes into his Leeds debut, chasing and struggling to catch an onrushing Matt Phillips, choosing instead to take him down. From that point on, it felt like Leeds would struggle, and a lack of defensive shield offered QPR chance after chance.
There had been a protracted wait for Steve Evans to secure Bridcutt’s signature, and he unsurprisingly replaced Luke Murphy. Charlie Taylor also returned to the team after his bout with glandular fever in the place of the suspended Gaetano Berardi.
There was a spot of controversy with quarter of an hour on the clock, Stuart Dallas going down with a bloodied nose after an off the ball incident with Michael Petrasso. The referee decided a drop ball was in order, despite protests from the Leeds end.
After an opening 25 minutes of few chances, Leeds should have found themselves in front. A long punt drew Rob Green out of his net, but Chris Wood nipped in to steal the ball from him. He then rounded the former England international, but was too slow, allowing him to get back into his net. Wood kept advancing on goal, set himself up and then blazed over.
QPR themselves could have opened the scoring after 32 minutes. Junior Hoilett had claims for a penalty turned down after Charlie Taylor barrelled into him, and Grant Hall headed over from two yards out from the resultant corner. With five minutes left of the half, QPR threatened again, first having a shot blocked as Marco Silvestri flew across his net, then Petrasso fired over with his left. As the game edged towards first-half injury time, Nedum Onuoha struck from the edge of the area, frightening Silvestri but firing just over.
It was probably symbolic of United’s attacking threat that when Antenucci was picked out by a beautiful ball on the right, there was absolutely no one in the area to pick up his pinged cross that flew straight across the face of goal.
The introduction of Charlie Austin for Petrasso had an immediate effect. Straight after coming on, he just could not reach a free-kick into the area, but only a minute later he ran from the edge of the box to meet a perfectly delivered corner kick. The result was unsurprising, Austin heading QPR into the lead.
From there, QPR had Leeds on the ropes, a succession of corners coming close but not resulting in what seemed like a crucial second. Silvestri was drawn into an exceptional save by another Austin header, palming the ball away under his crossbar. Excellent combination play between Phillips, Austin and Chery then gave Phillips a chance to shoot, but he dragged his effort short of the near post. Chery then had an opportunity of his own after terrible defensive play, but Silvestri was equal to his effort.
It was not to be for Leeds, the best attacking effort mustered up by Lee Erwin firing at Rob Green’s net from distance after a hopeful ball up the field. QPR, on the other hand, could have had more, and it was luck more than anything that kept the score at one-nil.
QPR: Green; Perch, Hall, Onuoha, Konchesky; Petrasso (Austin, 55), Faurlin, Sandro, Yun (Chery, 55), Hoilett; Phillips.
Unused subs: Smithies, Henry, Luongo, Angella, Tozser.
Silvestri; Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor; Mowatt (Botaka, 66), Bridcutt, Cook, Dallas; Antenucci (Erwin, 80), Wood.
Unused subs: Peacock-Farrell, Byram, Adeyemi, Murphy, Doukara.
Referee: P Bankes (Merseyside)
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