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Michael O’Neill ‘under no illusions’ as to task he faces at Stoke

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill admitted his relegation-threatened side are under massive pressure after they were beaten 4-2 at QPR.

The Potters squandered a 2-0 lead and their misery was compounded by wins for fellow strugglers Barnsley and Luton.

O’Neill, who was appointed in November, said: “We were bottom when I came in, so we’re under no illusions. We didn’t expect to be in a relaxed place at this minute in time.

“At no point have we thought that we’re clear of trouble. We had a chance to put a bit of distance between us and the teams beneath us and we haven’t managed to do that.

“What we have to focus on is ourselves. We can only control the games we’re involved in.

“Today in many ways we were masters of our own downfall having got 2-0 ahead. It’s disappointing, having gone two ahead, to take nothing.

“In the situation we’re in, any game that we lose we will then struggle to find a positive because the aim is survival.

“The aim is to stay in the Championship and then build a team that won’t find itself in this position going forward.”

Goals from Sam Clucas and Tyrese Campbell put Stoke in a great position but QPR were level by half-time after Jordan Hugill reduced the deficit and Ebere Eze equalised.

Bright Osayi-Samuel fired home from a seemingly impossible angle with 20 minutes remaining and Ilias Chair netted in stoppage time to seal Rangers’ win.

O’Neill said: “To concede three minutes after scoring the second goal opens the game right back up again.

“I felt even at 2-2 the game was still there for us to win. But the nature of the third goal was very disappointing in particular.”

QPR manager Mark Warburton praised Hugill, who atoned for an incredible first-half miss by scoring only his second goal in 15 league appearances.

The on-loan West Ham striker fired over from a couple of yards before hauling Rangers back into the game.

Hugill worked hard throughout and was applauded off by the home fans when substituted late on.

Warburton said: “He deserves his ovation. He worked his socks off and bullied their centre-backs all afternoon. He battled really hard, got his goal and was tireless.

“Strikers go through barren spells. It’s important their confidence stays high and you saw today what it means to Jordan.”

Rangers’ season has been blighted by missed chances and it seemed like a similar story was unfolding after Hugill and Marc Pugh both missed fine opportunities.

Warburton said: “We missed two massive chances and you’re thinking ‘here we go again’.

“Then we conceded two very poor goals and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“But we came back and in the second half we looked very good. We were incisive and created chance after chance.

“There’s never been a problem creating chances, it’s been a problem putting them away.

“The minute we stop creating chances we’re in trouble. As long as we can create quality chances then we’ll be OK.

“You want the fans to enjoy watching QPR. To do that, yes you have to create chances, but you’ve got to win as well.”