A Dominic Solanke header secured Bournemouth’s first win in seven games and took them top of the Championship with victory at QPR.
Solanke glanced in for his 18th goal of the season after 41 minutes at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
But QPR, in their first game for 22 days because of Covid, missed the chance to move into the top six with the defeat.
They ended the match with 10 men as substitute Andre Dozzell was sent off in injury time for two bookings.
More like it from Parker’s Cherries
Despite their lofty position, Bournemouth’s form coming into this game was poor. After opening the season with a 15-game unbeaten spell, Scott Parker’s men had collected only six points from the previous eight games, allowing others like Blackburn to narrow the gap.
After a cagey opening, Solanke really should have put the visitors in front but he contrived to head over from four yards after a super cross from Philip Billing.
However, the Bournemouth number nine made amends when he scored with a much more difficult header, climbing highest to guide one into the far corner from Stanislas’ in-swinging free-kick.
With 17 Championship goals to his name, only Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ben Brereton Diaz of Blackburn have scored more this season than Solanke.
Solanke was twice denied by QPR goalkeeper Seny Dieng in search of a second, but the most glaring opportunity came the way of substitute Jaidon Anthony, but he steered wide of an open goal from five yards after Jack Stacey had fizzed an inviting low ball across the box.
But they did enough to leapfrog Fulham into first place, whose game at home to Birmingham on 26 December was postponed.
Difficult restart for the R’s
It was hard to know what to expect from the west London club as they had not played since a 2-0 loss to Stoke on 5 December, following a Covid outbreak and with two games postponed, and they had slipped out of the top six.
Mark Warburton’s team enjoyed more possession but they struggled to make openings against a defence expertly marshalled by Gary Cahill.
It was only in a late rally that they troubled the visitors, but goalkeeper Mark Travers made a vital interception at the feet of Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes and Jefferson Lerma threw himself in front of Chris Willock as they slipped to a second successive defeat.
And QPR finished with 10 men after Dozzell was sent off following a challenge between Solanke and QPR’s Yoann Barbet, which resulted in a melee involving players from both teams.
They were booked, along with Dozzell after he clashed with Cherries defender Chris Mepham – his second yellow card following an earlier caution.
Both teams will next be in action on Thursday, with Bournemouth hosting Cardiff and QPR travelling to Bristol City (both 19:45 GMT), with neither of their opponents having played their Boxing Day fixture.
Then, to begin 2022, the R’s visit Birmingham on Sunday, 2 January (14:00 BST), while Bournemouth play Peterborough at home on Monday, 3 January (19:45 GMT).
- 6BarbetBooked at 90mins
- 2KakaySubstituted forAdomahat 70′minutes
- 15FieldBooked at 40mins
- 3WallaceSubstituted forGrayat 71′minutes
- 10ChairSubstituted forDozzellat 45′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 6MephamBooked at 90mins
- 4L CookSubstituted forPearsonat 90+1′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 10ChristieBooked at 56minsSubstituted forLoweat 82′minutes
- 29BillingBooked at 76mins
- 19StanislasSubstituted forAnthonyat 60′minutes
- Keith Stroud
Match ends, Queens Park Rangers 0, Bournemouth 1.
Second Half ends, Queens Park Rangers 0, Bournemouth 1.
Foul by Stefan Johansen (Queens Park Rangers).
Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Second yellow card to Andre Dozzell (Queens Park Rangers).
Ben Pearson (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card.
Chris Mepham (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card.
Yoann Barbet (Queens Park Rangers) is shown the yellow card.
Albert Adomah (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jamal Lowe (Bournemouth).
Attempt blocked. Jamal Lowe (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Dominic Solanke.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Ben Pearson replaces Lewis Cook.
Offside, Queens Park Rangers. Sam Field tries a through ball, but Stefan Johansen is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Chris Willock (Queens Park Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Jimmy Dunne (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth).
Foul by Stefan Johansen (Queens Park Rangers).
Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Robert Dickie (Queens Park Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Stefan Johansen.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Jamal Lowe replaces Ryan Christie.