Substitute Grant Holt made an immediate impact to give Norwich all three points at Carrow Road.
The home side had taken the lead when Russell Martin fired in a loose ball from the edge of the six-yard box.
QPR responded well after the break and levelled when Luke Young slotted home a rebound after Jamie Mackie's low drive had come back off a post.
But Holt was on hand to bundle home from inside the six-yard box after a cross from another sub, Wes Hoolahan.
The two promoted sides, enjoying comfortable mid-table positions in the top flight, served up an attractive encounter which may have been short of quality in front of goal but was finely balanced throughout and had its only yellow card in the final five minutes.
Lambert salutes impact of substitute Holt
Not long after kick-off, Anton Ferdinand, under pressure from Steve Morison, headed weakly back to former Spurs goalkeeper Radek Cerny, who was deputising for the injured Paddy Kenny.
But, having seized possession, the Norwich striker's left-footed effort was smothered by the Czech.
However, the home side were soon in front as Andrew Surman's left-wing corner fell invitingly for Martin to hook home.
QPR looked comfortable in possession but struggled to break down the Norwich defence, although Shaun Wright-Phillips collected Heidar Helguson's flick-on before tumbling under the challenge of advancing keeper John Ruddy, referee Mark Clattenburg well-placed to decide no illegal contact had been made.
Wright-Phillips freed Young down the right flank and his cross found Helguson at the back post, but the veteran Icelandic striker's header was as weak as the moustache he is growing for the admirable
Movember men's health awareness campaign
NORWICH v QPR
Russell Martin scored the only goal when the teams met at Carrow Road in the Championship on New Year's Day
QPR's goal was their 100th under Neil Warnock
In the closing moments of the opening period the visitors finally began to threaten, a Wright-Phillips free-kick drifting through a crowd of players with Shaun Derry unable to get the touch required at the far post.
Wright-Phillips then ghosted through and tested Ruddy with a low shot from 16 yards, Mackie firing the rebound into the side netting from a narrow angle.
The visitors started strongly after the break and Norwich continued their unfortunate trait of failing to keep a clean sheet this season.
Mackie ran purposefully at the defence and his shot from 20 yards rebounded perfectly off the left-hand upright for galloping full-back Young to side-foot in from 10 yards, his second goal in as many games.
However a double change injected some impetus into the home side and, within three minutes, both new additions had inspired the winner.
QPR were mugged by Norwich - Warnock
Holt, who moments earlier had seen a header from Morison's delicate cross cleared off the line by Derry, forced the ball into the net following a teasing left-footed cross from Hoolahan on the right-hand side.
Still the chances continued for Rangers, Young's cross from the right clipping the top of the bar and Helguson heading over, but Norwich held on to move above the Hoops into ninth place.
Norwich manager Paul Lambert:
"Any game is vital but I think we deserved the win.
"They put us on the back foot after their goal but I think in general terms we were excellent and I'm delighted with the win."
QPR boss Neil Warnock:
"I can't believe we haven't won the game.
"We played some great football but the two goals we conceded were like Sunday League goals.
"Norwich took their opportunities but when we got the equaliser we should have gone on to win the game."
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
Tommy Smith fouled by Andrew Crofts, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Radek Cerny.
Steve Morison delivers the ball, clearance by Luke Young.
Akos Buzsaky delivers the ball, John Ruddy makes a save.
Short corner worked by Wesley Hoolahan.
The ball is delivered by Steve Morison, Anton Ferdinand makes a clearance.
Akos Buzsaky takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.
The ball is delivered by Jay Bothroyd, save by John Ruddy.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Steve Morison. Daniel Gabbidon restarts play with the free kick.
Tommy Smith takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.
Free kick crossed by Akos Buzsaky, Marc Tierney manages to make a clearance.
Booking Kyle Naughton booked for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tommy Smith by Kyle Naughton.
Alejandro Faurlin has an effort at goal from a long way out that goes wide left.
The ball is crossed by Jay Bothroyd, Heidar Helguson produces a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
Grant Holt takes a shot. Save made by Radek Cerny.
Luke Young crosses the ball.
Cross/shot by Wesley Hoolahan.
Andrew Surman decides to take a short corner.
The ball is swung over by Marc Tierney, clearance made by Armand Traore.
Wesley Hoolahan is penalised for a handball. Akos Buzsaky restarts play with the free kick.
Grant Holt challenges Alejandro Faurlin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Akos Buzsaky takes the free kick.
The ball is crossed by Grant Holt, Andrew Surman produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the crossbar.
Substitution Tommy Smith on for Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Andrew Surman decides to take a short corner, Andrew Surman has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the target.
Centre by Steve Morison, Daniel Gabbidon makes a clearance.
Free kick taken by Armand Traore.
Substitution Akos Buzsaky on for Shaun Derry.
Bradley Johnson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jay Bothroyd.
The ball is crossed by Wesley Hoolahan.
The ball is delivered by Luke Young, Heidar Helguson takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.
Shaun Derry sends in a cross, clearance made by Kyle Naughton.
Assist on the goal came from Wesley Hoolahan.
72:40 Goal scored
Goal! - Grant Holt - Norwich 2 - 1 QPR Grant Holt fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Norwich 2-1 QPR.
Steve Morison produces a cross, Grant Holt takes a shot. Luke Young makes a clearance. Wesley Hoolahan sends in a cross,
Luke Young gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt. Marc Tierney restarts play with the free kick.
Jay Bothroyd sends in a cross.
Foul by Kyle Naughton on Shaun Wright-Phillips, free kick awarded. Radek Cerny takes the direct free kick.
Daniel Gabbidon restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Grant Holt joins the action as a substitute, replacing Simeon Jackson.
Substitution Wesley Hoolahan is brought on as a substitute for Anthony Pilkington.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Bradley Johnson on Heidar Helguson.
Andrew Crofts delivers the ball, clearance made by Alejandro Faurlin.
Steve Morison is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Radek Cerny restarts play with the free kick.
Handball decision goes against Jay Bothroyd. Free kick taken by Leon Barnett.
Alejandro Faurlin challenges Bradley Johnson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike comes in from Anthony Pilkington from the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Jamie Mackie.
Jamie Mackie is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Russell Martin restarts play with the free kick.
Handball by Simeon Jackson. Free kick taken by Daniel Gabbidon.
The assist for the goal came from Jamie Mackie.
58:33 Goal scored
Goal! - Luke Young - Norwich 1 - 1 QPR Luke Young grabs a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Norwich 1-1 QPR.
Effort from outside the penalty box by Jamie Mackie strikes the post.
Direct free kick taken by John Ruddy.
Substitution Kyle Naughton on for Ritchie De Laet.
Unfair challenge on Bradley Johnson by Jamie Mackie results in a free kick.
Substitution Clint Hill goes off and Jay Bothroyd comes on.
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Shaun Wright-Phillips from the right by-line, Header by Clint Hill from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
The ball is crossed by Shaun Derry, clearance by Marc Tierney.
Shaun Wright-Phillips is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by Russell Martin.
Simeon Jackson has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide left of the target.
The ball is delivered by Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Foul by Simeon Jackson on Alejandro Faurlin, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Daniel Gabbidon.
Centre by Luke Young, clearance made by Russell Martin.
The ball is sent over by Steve Morison, clearance made by Alejandro Faurlin.
The second half has started.
45:00 +1:20 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.
Jamie Mackie has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide right of the target.
Shot by Shaun Wright-Phillips. John Ruddy makes a save.
Unfair challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips by Ritchie De Laet results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Unfair challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips by Andrew Surman results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Luke Young, Heidar Helguson challenges Leon Barnett unfairly and gives away a free kick. John Ruddy takes the direct free kick.
Heidar Helguson takes a shot. Blocked by Leon Barnett.
Bradley Johnson produces a cross, clearance made by Anton Ferdinand.
The ball is crossed by Simeon Jackson, Daniel Gabbidon makes a clearance.
Foul by Ritchie De Laet on Armand Traore, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Shaun Wright-Phillips from left channel, clearance made by John Ruddy.
Centre by Luke Young, save by John Ruddy.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips by Simeon Jackson. Radek Cerny takes the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Armand Traore, save by John Ruddy.
Shot by Steve Morison from outside the box goes high over the target.
Andrew Crofts produces a cross, Effort from 20 yards by Steve Morison. Blocked by Anton Ferdinand.
A cross is delivered by Bradley Johnson, Anton Ferdinand manages to make a clearance.
Andrew Crofts produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes wide left of the goal.
Unfair challenge on Steve Morison by Anton Ferdinand results in a free kick. Andrew Surman crosses the ball in from the free kick, Daniel Gabbidon manages to make a clearance.
Shaun Wright-Phillips takes the outswinging corner, Steve Morison manages to make a clearance.
Shaun Wright-Phillips delivers the ball, Marc Tierney makes a clearance.
Corner taken by Shaun Wright-Phillips, Heidar Helguson has a header from close range and clears the crossbar.
Andrew Surman provided the assist for the goal. Outswinging corner taken by Andrew Surman from the left by-line.
14:05 Goal scored
Goal! - Russell Martin - Norwich 1 - 0 QPR Russell Martin finds the back of the net with a goal from close in low into the middle of the goal. Norwich 1-0 QPR.
Andrew Crofts takes a shot. Shaun Derry makes a clearance. Corner taken by Andrew Surman,
Clint Hill concedes a free kick for a foul on Steve Morison. Free kick crossed right-footed by Anthony Pilkington from right channel, Clint Hill makes a clearance.
Steve Morison takes a shot. Save by Radek Cerny.
Unfair challenge on Anton Ferdinand by Steve Morison results in a free kick. Anton Ferdinand restarts play with the free kick.
Shot by Simeon Jackson. Save by Radek Cerny.
Bradley Johnson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Derry. Luke Young delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, Leon Barnett manages to make a clearance.
Outswinging corner taken by Andrew Surman.
Daniel Gabbidon challenges Simeon Jackson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Anthony Pilkington, Shaun Derry makes a clearance.
Inswinging corner taken by Shaun Wright-Phillips from the left by-line, clearance made by Bradley Johnson.
The ball is sent over by Shaun Wright-Phillips, Leon Barnett manages to make a clearance.
Russell Martin concedes a free kick for a foul on Heidar Helguson. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Shaun Wright-Phillips, Andrew Crofts makes a clearance.
Foul by Simeon Jackson on Luke Young, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Radek Cerny.
Alejandro Faurlin produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.
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