QPR suffer Sunderland loss
Sunderland beat QPR 3-1 at the Stadium of Light - with a bad afternoon for the struggling visitors compounded by the second-half dismissal of Djibril Cisse.
Jack Colback (twice) and Stephane Sessegnon had early chances for the hosts - who lost defender John O'Shea to an injury in the first half with an injury which could jeopardise his chances of playing in Tuesday night's FA Cup quarter-final replay against Everton.
Sunderland defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos and QPR striker Bobby Zamora clashed, with the latter appearing to suggest he had been headbutted, before Sunderland took the lead with four minutes of the first half remaining when James McClean crossed to the far post for Nicklas Bendtner to head firmly past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny and into the far corner.
Gardner hit the bar with a 53rd minute free-kick and soon after the visitors' plight worsened when former Sunderland striker Cisse was shown a straight red card for an ugly lunge at Fraizer Campbell.
Sessegnon, back from suspension, shot over before Luke Young blocked a goalbound McClean shot after Gardner's cross had been allowed to reach him at the far post.
It was effectively over 20 minutes from time when McClean made sure of the points.
QPR defender Nedum Onuoha was caught under the ball, and the winger nipped in behind him and after seeing Young block his initial effort, thumped the rebound past Kenny with the help of a deflection off Onuoha.
The visitors were in disarray, and things took a further turn for the worse six minutes later when Sessegnon slid home David Vaughan's cross from close range to make it 3-0.
Taye Taiwo reduced the deficit with a superb 79th-minute free-kick, but there was to be no repeat of his side's last-gasp heroics against Liverpool in midweek.