Ciaran Clark's late own goal earns QPR draw at Newcastle
Ciaran Clark's late own goal kept Newcastle from going top of the Sky Bet Championship as QPR earned a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.
Jonjo Shelvey put the Magpies ahead inside the first minute but Conor Washington's second goal in as many games gave the visitors a deserved equaliser before half-time.
Matt Ritchie continued his hot streak in front of goal by heading the hosts back in the lead eight minutes into the second half, but Clark's own goal consigned Newcastle to their first home draw of the season.
Rafael Benitez restored the same side that beat Rotherham in their last league outing, making nine changes from FA Cup defeat to Oxford, and he was rewarded with a goal after 38 seconds.
Yoann Gouffran and Isaac Hayden linked together down the left before the latter's cross was headed away by Jake Bidwell to the edge of the area, where Shelvey was waiting to power in his first goal since September.
But that was as good as it got for the home team in the first half as the visitors dominated.
QPR first threatened in the seventh minute when Massimo Luongo curled an effort just wide of Karl Darlow's left post from the edge of the area.
Ian Holloway's side wasted a great opportunity on the break five minutes later when Pawel Wszolek hesitated too long and allowed the home defence to get back and clear.
Darlow was called into action in the 16th minute to parry away Luongo's header after the midfielder got on the end of Washington's cross.
A clash of heads between Clark and Jamie Mackie saw the Newcastle defender suffer a cut that forced him off for four minutes and, while he was away, Luongo saw an effort superbly blocked by Paul Dummett on the edge of his own area.
But QPR were not to be denied a minute before the break. A corner was cleared to the edge of the area to Bidwell and his shot was controlled and then poked home by Washington from close range.
Early in the second period Clark headed over from a Shelvey corner, but Newcastle's sloppy play continued and only a fine save from Darlow denied Wszolek after Dummett had gifted the visitors possession on the edge of his own area.
But, while QPR failed to take their chance, Newcastle grabbed theirs in the 53rd minute. Hayden lofted a cross from the right towards the far post, where Ritchie headed in his fifth goal in four games.
The hosts were galvanised and Shelvey was denied his second in the 59th minute when his dipping long-range effort was beaten away by Alex Smithies in the QPR goal.
Jamaal Lascelles scuffed an effort wide before Gouffran somehow saw his shot from two yards blocked by Smithies.
Smithies then denied Ayoze Perez with 15 minutes left after the Spaniard was played through on goal by Hayden.
And the misses proved costly as former Newcastle player Kazenga LuaLua's 90th-minute cross was headed into his own net by Clark.