QPR 1-1 Hull

By Chris WhyattBBC Sport

Queens Park Rangers remain poised to return to the Premier League despite having to put their promotion party on ice after Hull grabbed a late draw.

QPR looked set to seal the Championship title but Hull's equaliser, and a Norwich win against Derby, means they need a point to be sure of going up.

Third-placed Cardiff could still catch leaders QPR, but the west London club have a goal difference advantage of 13.

Wayne Routledge hit the early opener but David Amoo volleyed in for Hull.

QPR's promotion party ruined by late Norwich goal

Neil Warnock's team, who have led the Championship virtually all season, are making hard work of ending their 15-year absence from the top flight.

They did not come out for a lap of honour in the sun having failed to seal the victory they craved - which would have guaranteed the title - in front of their expectant home fans.

Supporters still streamed on to the pitch at full-time celebrating what they thought was certain promotion.

But, seconds later, news filtered through that Simeon Jackson had nicked a late winner for Norwich, meaning that QPR are still not technically promoted - although there remains a strong likelihood it will happen.

Nor are Rangers certain to be champions, with Norwich five points behind them with two matches left to play.

The late drama provided a stark contrast to what felt like a Bank Holiday stroll for a team continually inspired by the talent of playmaker Adel Taarabt.

Hull striker Matty Fryatt could have made more of free space in the area after two minutes as Paddy Kenny saved with his right foot, but QPR had more cutting edge in the final third.

Richard Garcia's sharp challenge on Taarabt by the corner flag meant the gifted Moroccan could whip a free-kick over, from which Heidar Helguson headed just over.

But nine minutes in, a perceptive square pass from Taarabt freed Routledge near the half-way line.

With Hull's defensive unit caught napping too far forward, Routledge sped away from Jack Hobbs and Anthony Gerrard to crack the ball past Matt Duke upon reaching the penalty area to send Loftus Road wild.

Soon after, in-form Hull midfielder Corry Evans - brother of Manchester United's Jonny - was replaced by Hope Akpan and, flushed with confidence, the hosts knocked the ball around with aplomb.

Yet their next good chance came from a long throw-in slung into the box, from which another Helguson header had Duke tipping the dipping ball over his bar.

Routledge, a willing accomplice for Taarabt's invention, swung in a dangerous bouncing cross on the half-hour - but it flummoxed his own slow-to-react team-mates, as well as the visitor's defence.

A breathtaking piece of juggling skill from Taarabt, who will be determined to prove he can turn it on in the top-flight having failed to establish himself at Tottenham previously, preceded his audacious waist-high free-kick from 40 yards which whistled past the post.

With Hull struggling to keep hold of the ball, Tommy Smith set up a blocked Fitz Hall effort while Shaun Derry - an effective screen for the home defence - nearly freed Helguson in bizarre fashion with a 30-yard headed through-ball.

Two injuries alarms either side of half-time proved, thankfully, to be nothing more than brief scares.

QPR goalkeeper Kenny came to gather a short cross but, despite landing awkwardly on his neck after somersaulting in the air, the former Sheffield United man was able to continue.

And so was second-half substitute Aaron Mclean, a striker on for midfielder Tom Crainey, after Derry accidentally stood heavily on his ankle just 30 seconds after the restart.

With a more ambitious mindset, and altered line-up to match, Hull put QPR under more pressure in the middle of the park, but goalmouth action was distinctly lacking - a long-range Taarabt free-kick sailing over the bar after 55 minutes.

Pearson shrugs off 'party pooper' tag

Hall, however, produced an alert sliding block in the penalty area when Fryatt muscled his way through to shoot in the 62nd minute.

Fans favourite Taarabt was inches from producing a fitting goal for himself with 20 minutes remaining but, after cleverly spinning away from a defender on the half-way line to accelerate towards goal, his left-foot shot from 15 yards just evaded the top corner.

With Hull aware that they needed at least a point to keep their own slim play-off hopes alive, the visitors pushed harder - and hit a shock equaliser with nine minutes left to play.

Substitube Amoo - a striker on loan from Liverpool - sprang the offside trap before smashing the ball high past Kenny after letting it drop over his shoulder from a clever lofted pass.

QPR substitute Patrick Agyemang did have a late chance to hit what would have been a glorious winner, but he overhit a lob when well placed to score, before Alejandro Faurlin's left-foot free-kick was brilliantly clawed away by Duke.

Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock: "I'm disappointed not to have tied it up but it doesn't surprise me with this team, we keep things going until the end.

"We are five points clear [of Norwich in second] with two games to go, you can't ask for much more. I think the fans know the goal difference is good and it's a healthy position to be in.

"To concede a goal from a kick from our keeper, it's Sunday league stuff really. I had a few words in the dressing room, it was not acceptable. But we'll go out and try to win our last two games now."

Hull manager Nigel Pearson: "It's probably too much now [to get into the Championship play-offs]. We have to win our games and need others to slip up.

"But we've made great strides this season, and it's important we finish on a positive note."

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