By Phil McNultyChief football writer, BBC Sport at Loftus Road
Southampton piled the pressure on Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes, producing an outstanding performance to win deservedly at Loftus Road.
Hughes and his opposite number Nigel Adkins were under such scrutiny before kick-off that this meeting of the Premier League strugglers was dubbed "El Sackico" on the basis that the loser would be lucky to keep his job.
And while Saints boss Adkins took the acclaim of the 3,000 travelling supporters at the final whistle, Hughes - whose side remain without a league win and are five points adrift - was subjected to the full fury of the QPR fans.
Hughes frustrated by QPR performance
Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon put Southampton in control at half-time and even though Junior Hoilett pulled a goal back for QPR, Anton Ferdinand's late own goal gave Adkins his first away points of the season and an outstanding victory.
Hughes has been singing a familiar refrain throughout QPR's wretched start to the season, claiming performances have not reaped the rewards they deserved. But that was not the case this time.
QPR were dismal and their supporters vented their feelings, chanting for Hughes's dismissal. One group of fans asked for the appointment of former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp by brandishing a banner reading: "Harry Come and Save Us".
Owner Tony Fernandes has constantly delivered public support for Hughes but this was a performance and situation that will have tested even his patience.
John RoderMatch of the Day commentator
"That's a huge result for Southampton and fully deserved - apart from a spell in the second half they were the better side throughout. What does the future now hold for QPR manager Mark Hughes?"
Adkins, however, can bask in a superb Southampton show that was a mirror of his own positive, confident approach.
His team's game plan was exemplified in the opening moments when Adam Lallana volleyed just over and Puncheon's angled cross bounced away to safety with QPR keeper Julio Cesar beaten.
QPR's threat was fleeting, with Adel Taarabt weaving his way to force a save from Paulo Gazzaniga, who was then fortunate when he fumbled Hoilett's shot just wide.
The goal which Saints deserved came after 23 minutes when Lambert dived bravely among flying boots in the six-yard area to head in after Puncheon's shot had been turned away by Jose Bosingwa.
QPR's supporters were becoming increasingly agitated and the atmosphere was soon even more hostile moments before half-time when Puncheon cut in from the right and fired a low 25-yard shot beyond Cesar.
It was the signal for a furious reaction around Loftus Road as referee Mike Dean ended the half for Hughes and his men.
The manager responded by sending on Jamie Mackie at the break and a sense of urgency was rewarded after 49 minutes when Hoilett flicked Taarabt's cross over Gazzaniga, who had looked the weak link in Saints' performance.
The goal gave QPR impetus but Southampton were still dangerous. Puncheon dragged a good chance wide from Lambert's knockdown and was then unfortunate to see a superb angled effort on the turn from 25 yards fly inches wide.
Puncheon was in the mood to shoot on sight and another effort was turned away for a corner by Cesar as Southampton continued to play to their attacking strengths.
While QPR's performance had improved marginally after the break - it could hardly have got worse - the Saints were still pressing for a third goal and Cesar again had to save well from Maya Yoshida's acrobatic attempt.
Southampton's victory was sealed seven minutes from time when Morgan Schneiderlin, given too much time and space to cross following a corner, sent in a low centre which was deflected into his own net at the near post by Ferdinand.
Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jamie Mackie on Jose Fonte. Direct free kick taken by Jose Fonte.
Substitution Jay Rodriguez on for Rickie Lambert.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Anton Ferdinand on Rickie Lambert. Daniel Fox takes the direct free kick.
Morgan Schneiderlin fouled by Adel Taarabt, the ref awards a free kick. Morgan Schneiderlin takes the free kick.
Short corner worked by Jason Puncheon.
Jason Puncheon decides to take a short corner.
Ryan Nelsen concedes a free kick for a foul on Rickie Lambert. Daniel Fox takes the free kick.
Rickie Lambert gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Anton Ferdinand. Anton Ferdinand restarts play with the free kick.
Morgan Schneiderlin provided the assist for the goal.
82:58 Goal scored
Goal - Anton Ferdinand - QPR 1 - 3 Southamp'n Anton Ferdinand concedes an own goal. QPR 1-3 Southampton.
Steven Davis takes a shot. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in. Jason Puncheon decides to take the corner short.
Corner taken right-footed by Esteban Granero, Ryan Nelsen takes a shot. Save by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Corner taken left-footed by Jason Puncheon, Shot by Maya Yoshida from 6 yards. Save by Soares Julio Cesar. Inswinging corner taken by Jason Puncheon from the right by-line, Ryan Nelsen manages to make a clearance.
Inswinging corner taken by Adam Lallana from the left by-line, save by Soares Julio Cesar.
Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Save by Soares Julio Cesar.
David Hoilett challenges Jack Cork unfairly and gives away a free kick. Daniel Fox takes the direct free kick.
Effort from the edge of the area by Djibril Cisse goes wide of the left-hand upright.
Jason Puncheon has shot on goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Free kick taken by Ryan Nelsen.
Substitution Luke Shaw goes off and Daniel Fox comes on.
Substitution Fabio Da Silva on for Jose Bosingwa.
Foul by Jason Puncheon on David Hoilett, free kick awarded.
Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Save by Soares Julio Cesar. Short corner taken by Jason Puncheon.
Effort on goal by Djibril Cisse from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jason Puncheon, Armand Traore makes a clearance.
Substitution Shaun Derry joins the action as a substitute, replacing Samba Diakite.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Rickie Lambert on Adel Taarabt. Soares Julio Cesar takes the direct free kick.
Free kick crossed right-footed by Adam Lallana, clearance by Anton Ferdinand.
Booking Booking for Jose Bosingwa.
Jose Bosingwa is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick.
Djibril Cisse concedes a free kick for a foul on Adam Lallana. Luke Shaw takes the direct free kick.
Jack Cork fouled by Samba Diakite, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Maya Yoshida.
Jason Puncheon produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses left.
Foul by Jamie Mackie on Luke Shaw, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Luke Shaw.
Jason Puncheon has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.
Short corner taken by Jason Puncheon from the right by-line.
Substitution Steven Davis on for Gaston Ramirez.
Jamie Mackie takes a shot. Jose Fonte gets a block in.
Morgan Schneiderlin takes a shot. Blocked by Samba Diakite.
Rickie Lambert takes a shot. Save by Soares Julio Cesar.
Esteban Granero takes the outswinging corner, clearance by Jack Cork.
Unfair challenge on Djibril Cisse by Jose Fonte results in a free kick. Jose Bosingwa takes the direct free kick.
Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Save by Soares Julio Cesar.
Adam Lallana takes a shot. Anton Ferdinand gets a block in.
Assist by Adel Taarabt.
48:22 Goal scored
Goal - David Hoilett - QPR 1 - 2 Southamp'n David Hoilett finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. QPR 1-2 Southampton.
Djibril Cisse has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Save by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Anton Ferdinand concedes a free kick for a foul on Gaston Ramirez. Adam Lallana sends in a cross, Headed effort from inside the area by Jose Fonte misses to the right of the target.
The referee starts the second half.
Substitution (QPR) makes a substitution, with Jamie Mackie coming on for Alejandro Faurlin.
45:00 +2:09 Half time
Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.
Nathaniel Clyne provided the assist for the goal.
45:00 +0:04 Goal scored
Goal - Jason Puncheon - QPR 0 - 2 Southamp'n Jason Puncheon scores a goal from just outside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. QPR 0-2 Southampton.
Shot from close in by Ryan Nelsen misses to the left of the goal.
Jack Cork concedes a free kick for a foul on Adel Taarabt. Adel Taarabt takes the direct free kick.
Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Anton Ferdinand gets a block in.
Esteban Granero gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Cork. Free kick taken by Jose Fonte.
Jason Puncheon challenges Anton Ferdinand unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Soares Julio Cesar.
Esteban Granero has an effort at goal from outside the area which misses left.
Adam Lallana takes a shot. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in.
Jack Cork takes a shot. Soares Julio Cesar makes a save.
Esteban Granero gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Luke Shaw. Direct free kick taken by Maya Yoshida.
Djibril Cisse fouled by Luke Shaw, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Djibril Cisse.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Adam Lallana from the left by-line, Ryan Nelsen manages to make a clearance. Corner taken by Gaston Ramirez from the right by-line to the near post, Jose Bosingwa makes a clearance.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Morgan Schneiderlin on Esteban Granero. Shot on goal comes in from Adel Taarabt from the free kick, blocked by Adam Lallana.
Alejandro Faurlin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin. Direct free kick taken by Jack Cork.
22:16 Goal scored
Goal - Rickie Lambert - QPR 0 - 1 Southamp'n Rickie Lambert scores a headed goal from close range. QPR 0-1 Southampton.
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Gaston Ramirez, Adam Lallana takes a shot. Save by Soares Julio Cesar. Corner taken by Adam Lallana from the left by-line, clearance made by Ryan Nelsen.
Djibril Cisse is caught offside. Paulo Gazzaniga takes the indirect free kick.
The assist for the goal came from Jason Puncheon.
22:16 Goal scored
Goal - Rickie Lambert - QPR 0 - 1 Southamp'n Rickie Lambert grabs a headed goal from close range. QPR 0-1 Southampton.
Jose Fonte takes a shot. Nathaniel Clyne takes a shot. Blocked by Jose Bosingwa. Djibril Cisse produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Inswinging corner taken by Gaston Ramirez from the right by-line, Adam Lallana takes a shot. Save by Soares Julio Cesar. Corner taken right-footed by Adam Lallana from the left by-line, Ryan Nelsen manages to make a clearance.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alejandro Faurlin by Gaston Ramirez. Free kick taken by Ryan Nelsen.
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Esteban Granero, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Ryan Nelsen goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
David Hoilett takes a shot. Save by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Adel Taarabt takes a shot. Save by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Esteban Granero from the left by-line, clearance made by Maya Yoshida.
Adam Lallana takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.
The ref blows the whistle to start the match.
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