QPR's survival hopes were dealt a major blow as Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a comprehensive victory despite the absence of manager Brendan Rodgers. It was a dreadful end to a roller coaster 2012 for the west Londoners in which there have been plenty more troughs than peaks.
Liverpool dominated from the outset and coasted to victory even without Rodgers, who was unwell and too sick to be on the touchline. Assistant manager Colin Pascoe and coach Mike Marsh deputised at Loftus Road, and they witnessed two Suarez goals inside the opening 16 minutes.
Daniel Agger nodded the visitors further ahead in the 28th minute and, despite an improved second-half performance from the hosts, Liverpool were never in any real danger of losing grip of proceedings.
The defeat leaves QPR bottom and eight points adrift of safety heading into a tough January, which starts with a trip to rivals Chelsea.
Harry Redknapp's side had an important day given their current predicament, with fans calling for the spirit shown when Liverpool last visited back in March. QPR came back from behind to secure a 3-2 win that day, with the result proving a catalyst in their successful battle against the drop.
The west Londoners needed a similar result today but started poorly, with returning goalkeeper Julio Cesar tested inside three minutes. Suarez jinked past Clint Hill and unleashed a fierce strike that the Brazilian, recalled in place of Robert Green, could only parry.
Cesar may have wished he had stayed on the bench given the pressure he was under from the outset, with Suarez netting his first of the afternoon in the 10th minute. The Uruguayan collected a pass from Jordan Henderson and ghosted past Hill with worrying ease, before striking low past the goalkeeper.
It was the 14th time this season that QPR had conceded the opening goal and in the 16th minute Liverpool doubled their advantage. Suarez was again both scorer and creator, bursting along the byline from the right to produce a cross that Nedum Onuoha could only block straight into the striker's path, allowing him to score again.
Liverpool apply further pressure
Adel Taarabt and Djibril Cisse tried and failed with audacious efforts in a bid to reduce the deficit, although it was Liverpool still in the ascendancy. Ryan Nelsen did superbly to stop Suarez connecting with a low Glen Johnson cross, before an unmarked Steven Gerrard tested Cesar from the resulting corner.
Liverpool did not have to wait long for their third goal, as Gerrard collected a short corner and sent in a right-wing cross for Agger to nod home.
Taarabt called Jose Reina into action for the first time shortly afterwards, although most of the action was still at the other end. Jordan Henderson was inches away from Liverpool's fourth with a drilled 20-yard strike, before a Gerrard effort was cleared off the line by a combination of Armand Traore and Nelsen.
Taarabt struck a number of shots from distance as he tried to single-handedly claw QPR back, but the home team's efforts were met by boos at the half-time whistle.
Change of formation for second half
The Hoops emerged for the second half with Shaun Derry on in place of Cisse as Redknapp switched to a 3-5-2 formation. The move to make the home side sturdier worked for the most part, but the Reds were still creating chances.
Suarez saw a goalbound effort superbly tipped over by Cesar, before Gerrard and Henderson threatened. QPR proved more of a threat in the second half and, after Traore flashed a cross-shot across goal, Stephane Mbia had two strikes from distances.
Jose Enrique limped off and was replaced by Suso as the game entered the final 20 minutes in which Liverpool shut up shop. Mbia saw two further strikes as QPR searched for a consolation that never came as the 3,288 visiting supporters went home happy. Their QPR counterparts, though, were left to wonder where they go next.