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Sheffield United on verge of sealing play-off spot with comeback win at QPR

Sheffield United claimed a valuable win at QPR (Adam Davy/PA)
Sheffield United claimed a valuable win at QPR (Adam Davy/PA)

Sheffield United came from behind to claim a comfortable 3-1 Championship victory at QPR that put them on the verge of sealing a play-off spot.

Charlie Austin put Rangers ahead after 31 minutes in what was expected to be his farewell match at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.

But Mark Warburton’s side found themselves under sustained pressure after the interval and Iliman Ndiaye equalised nine minutes into the second half.

Former QPR defender Jack Robinson put United in front after 73 minutes and in stoppage time, Conor Hourihane scored straight after coming on as a substitute to record his first United goal.

It means the Blades’ top-fix finish could be sealed if results elsewhere go their way on Saturday.

It also condemned Warburton to another defeat in his final home match as manager of Rangers, who are replacing him when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Striker Austin, who turns 33 this summer, is also set to move on.

Austin scored 45 league goals in 82 appearances during his first spell at QPR, but his second has turned out to be disappointing.

He rolled back the years by getting in front of Chris Basham to head home Albert Adomah’s right-wing cross just after the half-hour mark.

But it was only his fifth league goal of the season and QPR are set to release him.

He was signed last summer on what was announced as a two-year deal, but it was in fact a one-year contract with a second year dependent on him making a certain number of appearances.

Austin has fallen short of that number so will essentially be out of contract among with several other players, including Adomah.

Warburton’s woes were summed up with the fact that Kieren Westwood – signed on a short-term deal because five other QPR goalkeepers are sidelined – missed the game with an injury of his own.

With the Blades’ play-off hopes on the line, and young Hoops keeper Murphy Mahoney making only his second senior appearance, United predictably peppered the hosts’ six-yard box in the second half.

Morgan Gibbs-White was denied by Sam McCallum’s goal-line clearance and soon afterwards headed against the post, before the equaliser arrived.

After a corner was headed down near the far post by John Egan, Sander Berge’s effort was blocked and Ndiaye was on hand to score from close range.

The visitors’ second goal was beautifully worked, with Oliver Norwood floating the ball towards the right of the penalty area, where Basham headed it across for Robinson to power a header past Mahoney.

QPR barely threatened before almost snatching a late equaliser when Jimmy Dunne diverted Osman Kakay’s mis-hit shot against the crossbar.

Any prospect of a Rangers comeback was quashed by Hourihane’s thumping first-time strike into the roof of the net from Berge’s cross.

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