West Ham United kept up their fine start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 victory away to Queens Park Rangers that left Mark Hughes' side bottom of the table.
Matt Jarvis' early goal set the tone for a dominant first-half display by the Hammers and Ricardo Vaz Te gave them a two-goal cushion that proved decisive as QPR battled back after the break, with Adel Taarabt netting a great goal before Samba Diakite's dismissal.
Mark Hughes opted for an attacking line-up as QPR went in search of their first league win of the season, with Bobby Zamora selected up front against his former club alongside Djibril Cisse. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ryan Nelsen were also drafted in, but unfortunately the changes did not work as QPR were left too open against a combative West Ham outfit.
Sam Allardyce made a host of changes to the Hammers side that lost to Wigan in the Capital One Cup and restored the XI that played against Sunderland, with just one change as Jarvis came in for the injured Matt Taylor. Jarvis made an instant impact, even if it was a tad fortunate, as he headed home after just three minutes to break the deadlock.
Hughes' line-up may have hinted at an adventurous approach but they were caught cold by Jarvis' early opener and struggled to impose themselves on the game until the second half. The strikers were starved of service and Wright-Phillips was a peripheral figure out wide as central midfield provided the setting for the main battleground. QPR were also vulnerable at the back and their defending for both goals was disappointing, with goalkeeper Julio Cesar left looking silly as a Stephane Mbia deflection took Vaz Te's shot past him from a narrow angle.
It was a familiar tale of power and energy from West Ham as they took control in the first half. Allardyce's side just looked hungrier as they found themselves with an extra man in the centre all too often for QPR's liking, with Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame outmuscling their opponents. They did play with a direct approach to play to their aerial strengths, even if they began to look ragged as QPR fought back in the second period and on another day could have lived to regret retreating so deep, but luckily Jussi Jaaskelainen was at his best in the West Ham goal with a string of excellent saves.
Hughes made a double change early in the second half, one of which turned out to be inspired, the other disastrous. Taarabt made an immediate contribution after coming on for the ineffective Wright-Phillips, curling in a superb strike to give QPR hope of salvaging a draw. The Moroccan continued to pull the strings for a short while until fellow substitute Diakite, surprisingly brought on for captain Park Ji-sung, was sent off for a second bookable offence less 20 minutes after being introduced.
West Ham had used up two of their substitutions by half-time due to injuries to Winston Reid and Joey O'Brien. There was a great deal of concern over Reid after a heavy collision with Jussi Jaaskelainen, but after being treated carefully it was later confirmed that he was not concussed and was talking normally in the dressing room. James Tomkins and George McCartney slotted in seamlessly at the back, while there was a comeback in the second half for on-loan striker Andy Carroll after a spell on the sidelines.
Mark Clattenburg had a busy night as he brandished the yellow card to eight West Ham players as well as cautioning QPR's Taarabt for his goal celebration. The big decision, though, was the dismissal of Diakite for a second bookable offence, with the midfielder sent off for an early bath after a late challenge on Guy Demel. Hughes will undoubtedly think it was harsh but Diakite really has only himself to blame after a couple of poor tackles. There were plenty of stoppages and Clattenburg did seem fussy on occasions, but he was at least consistent.
It was always going to take time for his new-look side to gel but Hughes would have expected a far better return than two points from his first six games. This was a very winnable match for QPR, especially as they had made Loftus Road such a fortress at the end of last season, and it looks like another relegation dogfight could be looming. A trip to in-form West Brom lies in store at the weekend, with Everton and Arsenal to follow at the end of the month.
West Ham look a more battle-hardened side than QPR, as well as the other two promoted sides, and having cemented a place in the top half they will now be looking to push on. Allardyce always recognised that the first couple of months of the season would be crucial but the Hammers look well-equipped to take points from the sterner challenges to come.