Four goals in a breathless final eight minutes ended in Liverpool clinching a dramatic win which kept QPR bottom of the Premier League.
Liverpool led through Richard Dunne’s record 10th Premier League own goal before Chile striker Eduardo Vargas levelled with his first QPR goal.
Philippe Coutinho drilled in to put Liverpool back ahead, only for Vargas to equalise again in injury time.
QPR’s Steven Caulker then diverted into his own net to move Liverpool to fifth.
The defeat was harsh on newly-promoted QPR who dominated most of the match without taking the scoring chances that they created.
And they were taught a harsh lesson as Liverpool, last season’s runners-up, climbed into their joint-highest Premier League position of the season.
QPR have struggled on their return to the top-flight, claiming just four points in their eight matches, and leading to speculation that manager Harry Redknapp’s position is under threat.
The 67-year-old insisted before kick-off that he is not under pressure, but was left cursing his luck at the final whistle – looking to the west London skies in disbelief – as he wondered how his team failed to earn at least a point.
A draw would have moved them above fellow new-boys Burnley, who are still winless after Saturday’s defeat against West Ham.
QPR’s work-rate has been criticised by some observers but they looked reinvigorated by the international break – and the five changes to their starting XI – following the 2-0 defeat at West Ham.
Former England striker Bobby Zamora was one of the players recalled, with the hope that his physicality would unnerve a Liverpool defence which had kept just one clean sheet in their previous 16 matches.
And Redknapp’s plan worked during a first half in which QPR hassled and harried their opponents into defensive mistakes.
Zamora’s movement and strength left Liverpool looking bedraggled and the 33-year-old teed up the two efforts which saw Leroy Fer rattle the woodwork before half-time.
QPR continued where they left off in the first half as Sandro’s stinging shot was pushed to safety by Reds keeper Simon Mignolet, before Charlie Austin flashed a low effort across goal from a tight angle.
The Hoops deserved to be ahead on the number of chances created, but were punished when Raheem Sterling’s quick free-kick ended in Dunne hacking into his own goal.
Redknapp introduced on-loan Napoli forward Vargas with little more than 10 minutes left and he made an instant impact by smashing in Austin’s knockdown for the first equaliser.
Sterling has been the centre of attention in a week where debate about his physical condition dominated the media – and now the focus will rightly switch to the England international’s talent.
The 19-year-old, who started his career in QPR’s academy before moving to Anfield, was largely anonymous as Liverpool largely failed to find their rhythm.
But he burst into life when it mattered as Liverpool showed the character to carve out an important win.
Sterling began the move which set up Coutinho’s goal, which was cancelled out by Vargas’ second, before his square pass was bundled into his own net by Caulker for the winner.
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