Despite an early scare, the afternoon could hardly have got off to a better start for Hughes. Little over a minute was on the clock when José Bosingwa hooked a Leighton Baines corner narrowly wide of his own goal. From the resulting set- piece, César punched clear and Hoilett outmuscled Phil Neville to win the loose ball inside his own half. From there the Canada international raced forward with defenders backpedalling and, having seemingly held on to the ball for a second or two too long, watched as his shot clipped the heels of Baines and flew past the stranded Tim Howard.
César's only other important action in the opening half-hour was to push away Nikica Jelavic's curling low free-kick, while at the other end Ryan Nelsen might have doubled the advantage but headed Esteban Granero's free-kick wide from close range.
The QPR keeper, though, could do little about Everton's equaliser even though he will be credited with it. Steven Pienaar's free-kick was headed thunderously against the inside of the post by Sylvain Distin and the ball bobbled back over the line courtesy of a rebound off the Brazilian's back.
That sparked 60 seconds of madness to match those in the opening exchanges. Jelavic tumbled in the box under Stéphane Mbia's challenge to bring David Moyes to the edge of his technical area screaming for a penalty. The referee, Jon Moss, turned those appeals down, but from the corner that followed the attack Phil Jagielka planted a header against the bar.
In the main it was a scrappy affair. Adel Taarabt, predictably, was in gloves but he might have been better off with a cagoule. The watery conditions had plenty of players struggling to stay vertical, and at times it seemed as if this was a game being played on an ice rink for which only Granero, the most technically accomplished in midfield, had remembered to bring his skates.
When QPR did string passing passages together either side of half-time they found Jagielka in fine form. The England defender flicked away Taarabt's from onrushing attackers after a sweeping, Granero-prompted surge just before the break, and produced a superb block tackle to deny Park Ji-sung after Samba Diakité had wriggled past a couple of challenges and pulled the ball back for his captain.
The odds were tipped in the home side's favour on the hour when Pienaar was sent off after two yellow cards in the space of 10 minutes, the first after the South Africa international hammered into Hoilett, the second issued, rather more dubiously, for a trip on Bosingwa. Certainly the contact was far less substantial than the one made by Seamus Coleman's boot on Hoilett in the Everton penalty area with 10 minutes to go.
Either side of the red card both Howard and César had made fine stops, with the QPR keeper first denying Jagielka from point-blank range. His counterpart at the other end produced two excellent saves to keep out Hoilett efforts from the edge of the box and, at the death, Jagielka was on hand once more to deny Park.
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