Charlie Austin endured a miserable night as QPR’s cup hoodoo continued in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Sunderland.
Austin thought he had scored a late winner to send Championship Rangers through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup for the first time since 1988.
But the goal was harshly disallowed for offside and then Austin’s agony was compounded when he missed the first penalty of the shoot-out.
He was not the only culprit, though, with Ilias Chair and Yoann Barbet also off target from the spot to send League One Sunderland through 3-1 on penalties following a goalless draw.
Rangers’ record in the cups is little short of abysmal; their 50 FA Cup third-round defeats is a record while their supporters still shudder at the mention of Vauxhall Motors, their conquerors in 2002.
And now they have been dumped out of this competition by League One opposition in each of the last four seasons.
Both promotion-chasing clubs have other priorities this season and the two managers made a combined 13 changes from their weekend line-ups.
But both sets of fans clearly felt otherwise with Loftus Road packed to the rafters – 15,372 a hugely impressive turn-out on a cold Tuesday night, proving there is life in the League Cup yet.
Lee Johnson’s Sunderland have made a flying start to the season, having won 12 of their opening 16 games in all competitions and, backed by a large, noisy away contingent of almost 3,000, they created the first chances.
Lynden Gooch released Leon Dajaku, whose shot was blocked by Rangers keeper Seny Dieng at his near post, before teenage midfielder Dan Neil slalomed along the edge of the Rangers area and forced Dieng into another save with a low drive.
But Rangers began to dominate and almost went ahead through Barbet’s piledriver from the edge of the area which was clawed out by Lee Burge.
Chair was inches wide with a first-time shot from 18 yards and Andre Gray played in Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes, who was also just off target as he slid the ball past Burge.
Sunderland almost fell foul of a comical own-goal when a sliced clearance from Frederik Alves narrowly cleared his own crossbar, and Burge saved again from Gray to keep it goalless at the interval.
After the break Austin volleyed Osman Kakay’s cross just over before the night’s controversial moment came.
Albert Adomah’s shot was deflected into the path of Austin with Dennis Cirkin seemingly playing both onside.
But as the veteran striker bundled the ball home a flag was belatedly raised and penalties beckoned.
Austin’s spot-kick was saved by Burge and Rangers were frustrated in the cup yet again.
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