John Egan’s last-ditch goal salvaged a point for second-placed Sheffield United at a spirited Queens Park Rangers.
Egan’s mistake had put Rangers ahead as he gave away the ball before deflecting Ilias Chair’s shot past his own goalkeeper.
Chair, impressive throughout, had another good chance soon after, while Billy Sharp twice came close for the Blades either side of half-time.
The visitors began to increase the pressure as the second half went on and they were rewarded for their industry when Egan blasted home from close range in the sixth minute of stoppage time after Enda Stevens headed back into the middle of the box.
The point means Sheffield United are nine clear of third-placed Blackburn Rovers as they aim to return to the Premier League following relegation in 2021.
Rangers – who had been set to jump five places up to 10th in the table before the equaliser – move up to 12th, three points from the play-off places.
The two sides’ form going into the fixture could not have been more contrasting – the Blades had won eight of their past nine while QPR had taken just five points in the same spell and scored two goals.
But it was the hosts who impressed from the off, and Chair in particular as the Morocco international was at the centre of his side’s creativity and rewarded with the opening goal.
United centre-back Egan played a pass from a short goal-kick straight to Chris Willock, who found Chair 25 yards out and his right-footed shot clipped Egan and left Wes Foderingham no chance of reacting to it.
Chair curled an effort over the bar soon after, while at the other end Seny Dieng saved the Blades’ first real effort with his legs after Sharp was put through.
QPR seemed to be galvanised by the goal and looked a different side from the one that had struggled over the past two months, as Chair had a 25th-minute effort blocked by Sander Berge after good work by Tyler Roberts.
They pushed for a second before the break, but Rob Dickie’s goal-bound effort was blocked by Ciaran Clark five minutes from half-time.
Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes then had a shot deflected wide, before Dickie failed to guide a Chair free-kick on target.
But the Blades then began to take command.
First Sharp had another chance to level, but his lob from the edge of the box looped over the crossbar, while Iliman Ndiaye was denied by Dieng after a lengthy run into the R’s box.
Ndiaye felt he should have had a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Jimmy Dunne with 14 minutes left as the Blades continued to pile on the pressure, while substitute Daniel Jebbison had a shot saved.
But Rangers could not hold out as Egan smashed in from eight yards for his second goal in three matches.
QPR manager Neil Critchley told BBC Radio London:
“Football is a very cruel game sometimes. We showed a really good response from our defeat the other night [against Luton]. We were excellent in the first half and up to the 65th minute I thought we were the better team.
“You know while it’s only 1-0 they can throw men forward and throw caution to the wind. I thought we defended very well as a group and put a real shift in.
“I feel for the supporters, not having three points to celebrate, and for our players for the effort they put in. They deserved that winning feeling tonight.”
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“With the form we have been in it is a little bit quieter than you’d imagine in the dressing room. That’s because of the results we’ve been getting and the standards the players have been setting.
“It is a good point in the end and probably shows a lot about the group, the way we had to fight to get control of the game.
“We weren’t at our best with the ball and to go behind meant that, with their good players who are good on the counter, it was set up perfect for them. We had to accept the game would be end to end.
“I’d back us against anyone when the game gets stretched and that’s how we got back into the game. We started building pressure and momentum, and we got the one in the end that we needed.”
- 3DunneBooked at 86mins
- 15FieldBooked at 57mins
- 11RobertsSubstituted forAdomahat 78′minutes
- 7WillockSubstituted forAmosat 74′minutes
- 18FoderinghamBooked at 39mins
- 15AhmedhodzicSubstituted forBogleat 83′minutes
- 26ClarkSubstituted forRobinsonat 45′minutes
- 2BaldockSubstituted forJebbisonat 70′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 22DoyleSubstituted forMcAteeat 60′minutes
- Josh Smith
Match ends, Queens Park Rangers 1, Sheffield United 1.
Second Half ends, Queens Park Rangers 1, Sheffield United 1.
Goal! Queens Park Rangers 1, Sheffield United 1. John Egan (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Enda Stevens with a headed pass.
Attempt blocked. Enda Stevens (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jayden Bogle.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Robert Dickie.
Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United).
Jimmy Dunne (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. John Egan (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Oliver Norwood with a cross.
Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Osman Kakay (Queens Park Rangers).
Corner, Queens Park Rangers. Conceded by John Egan.
Attempt blocked. Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Osman Kakay.
Attempt saved. Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jayden Bogle.
Jimmy Dunne (Queens Park Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jimmy Dunne (Queens Park Rangers).
Foul by Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United).
Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Jayden Bogle replaces Anel Ahmedhodzic.