Cesc Fabregas scored with Chelsea’s first shot on target two minutes from time to snatch a 1-0 victory at local rivals QPR on Sunday.
With Diego Costa and Loic Remy both out injured, Premier League leaders Chelsea were short of out-and-out attacking options at Loftus Road and looked set to end the match without troubling home goalkeeper Rob Green.
However, Fabregas – wearing a protective face mask after breaking his nose against Stoke City last weekend – drilled home a late winner to cruelly deny Chris Ramsey’s side a valuable point in the fight against relegation.
QPR had looked well-drilled and appeared most likely to snatch a winner in the second half – Matt Phillips coming closest for the home side when he turned to shoot in the centre of the penalty area shortly after the hour mark, only for Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to push it wide.
But Fabregas, whose former club Arsenal are now Chelsea’s main title rivals, had the final say, re-establishing a seven-point advantage at the top with his side’s 100th goal in all competitions this season. QPR, meanwhile, remain two points adrift of safety.