Cardiff 2-2 QPR

By Peter ShuttleworthBBC Sport Wales

Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers failed to win Premier League promotion at Cardiff City but Adel Taarabt rescued a point.

Jay Bothroyd gave Cardiff the lead with a 20-yard stunner before Taarabt levelled with his own super strike.

Craig Bellamy edged Cardiff ahead in this first-versus-third clash, lashing home Bothroyd's cross.

But Taarabt denied Cardiff a return to the top two with a neat 18-yard finish.

Rangers almost sealed a dramatic promotion-clinching winner in the last minute but Heidar Helguson could not squeeze Taarabt's low cross on target.

Cardiff remain in third, a point behind Norwich City, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot.

QPR knew a win at the Cardiff City Stadium would cement automatic promotion back to the Premier League after a 15-year absence - although they are awaiting the outcome of their Football Association disciplinary hearing on charges of breaching FA rules over the transfer of Alejandro Faurlin.

Cardiff took QPR 'to the cleaners' - Jones

Manager Neil Warnock was looking to seal promotion to the Premier League in Cardiff for a second time.

In 2006, also at Easter, he saw his Sheffield United side secure top-flight football in the Welsh capital.

Five years later, QPR play-maker Taarabt almost silenced the sell-out crowd early on but the Moroccan's shot whizzed over Stephen Bywater's crossbar.

And it was Cardiff's creative stars who combined to break the deadlock.

Bellamy teed-up Bothroyd, who fired in a stunning 20th goal of the season with a left-footed 25-yard piledriver into the top corner that gave QPR keeper Paddy Kenny no chance.

It was the 28th occasion Cardiff had opened the scoring this season but there had been few better than the England international's wonder goal.

Peter Whittingham had missed an earlier one-on-one after being put through by Bellamy, but Cardiff's top-scorer showed him how it should be done.

However, Rangers were level within minutes as Taarabt showed why he was named the PFA Championship Player of the Season.

His right-footed, inswinging curler from the left flank deceived everyone including Bywater as the ball sailed into the net at the far post.

Bellamy, a Seyi Olofinjana free header and a Dekel Keinan effort failed to hand Cardiff the advantage once more, although Keinan felt he should have been awarded a penalty when he and Matt Connolly collided going for a Whittingham left-wing free-kick.

Referee Lee Mason waved away Cardiff's protests as Rangers started to assert their authority in this top-of-the-table showdown in the south Wales sunshine.

But their control was broken when Bellamy and Bothroyd chased down a long punt upfield by Bywater and, after winning a throw-in, Bothroyd whipped the ball in for Bellamy to score.

Warnock proud after draw in Cardiff

The Wales international, on-loan from Premier League Manchester City, capitalised as QPR failed to clear Bothroyd's right-wing cross and Bellamy rammed his 10th goal of the season past a helpless Kenny.

Cardiff had a scare when Shaun Derry's deflected 30-yard strike deceived Bywater but Taarabt just could not get to the ball as it crept agonisingly to safety for Cardiff.

The relentless pace and intensity understandably dropped after the half-time break but both sides continued to create good chances.

Olofinjana thought he had added a third for Cardiff when he volleyed Paul Quinn's right-wing cross goalwards but the midfielder's 15-yard drive was blocked by covering Rangers defender Bradley Orr's midriff and the ball rebounded to safety.

Cardiff were enjoying the possession and territory but could not find the killer pass as Bellamy, Bothroyd and Chris Burke probed, while Whittingham shot over.

Taarabt showed Cardiff how it should be done as Rangers' captain led by example, drawing the visitors level against the run of play for his 17th goal of the season.

The Moroccan gathered Wayne Routledge's chipped pass, turned the otherwise impressive Kevin McNaughton and nudged the ball into the left-hand corner of Bywater's net from just inside the penalty area.

The Rangers defence, however, almost conspired to throw away the point when Orr's header inadvertently fell into Bellamy's path - but the striker was denied when through one-on-one as Kenny spread himself.

Helguson then failed to pinch a winner as Cardiff's four-match winning sequence came to an end.

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