Wes Hoolahan double helps Norwich to thumping final-day victory over QPR
Wes Hoolahan celebrated his first Norwich player-of-the-season award with two goals as his side beat QPR 4-0 to secure an eighth-placed finish in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder opened the scoring in a low-key final-day fixture midway through the first half, and second-half strikes from Alex Pritchard, Josh Murphy and Hoolahan again completed a comfortable win for the hosts.
Rangers improved after a dreadful start but rarely threatened to work their way into the game, with the defeat leaving them grateful they had beaten Nottingham Forest last weekend to steer themselves away from the relegation mire.
It took a goal-line block from Joel Lynch to prevent Nelson Oliveira from opening the scoring in the second minute – and the one-way traffic continued in the opening stages.
Alex Smithies pulled off a superb stop low to his right to keep out Murphy’s snap-shot, while the flying winger then clipped the crossbar from long range.
John Ruddy, making his final appearance for Norwich after his release was announced in midweek, was then forced into action to keep out a low drive from Conor Washington, but it was the hosts who were dominating proceedings.
A goal just had to come and it duly arrived in 22nd minute. The Rangers defence stood back and looked on as Hoolahan picked up the ball in central midfield and he had all the space he needed to jink his way through before firing low into the corner from just outside the box.
Later in the half Pritchard also tried his luck by running at the heart of a ragged visiting defence, and got in a shot that was deflected just wide.
The Canaries had dominated the opening period, but it required an excellent fingertip save from Ruddy to prevent the visitors from drawing level as he tipped a rising drive from Pawel Wszolek onto the bar.
It was a more even game after the break, with substitute Luke Freeman curling a free-kick just wide for the visitors, but it was Norwich who doubled their advantage on the hour mark.
When Hoolahan found Pritchard in the box, the midfielder’s first effort was blocked but the ball bounced back to Pritchard and he made no mistake with his second effort, volleying the ball past Smithies.
Hoolahan then had a powerful shot saved by the Rangers goalkeeper as Norwich upped the tempo and several more chances came and went before Murphy drilled the ball home in the 85th minute after being put through by Hoolahan.
The Irishman then fittingly had the final say in stoppage time, sending the ball into an unguarded net after the chance had been set up by substitute Cameron Jerome.