Queens Park Rangers spurned another chance to improve their chances of survival in the Premier League after a gripping 2-3 loss at Fulham left them seven points from safety with seven games to play.
Fulham exploited generous defending from their west London rivals to establish a 3-0 lead inside 41 minutes at Craven Cottage through a Dimitar Berbatov double and a Clint Hill own goal.
Adel Taarabt pulled one back in the first half and Loic Remy added a second, moments after seeing a penalty saved, before Fulham lost Steve Sidwell to a red card for a late foul on Armand Traore. QPR could not find an equaliser, however, and remain second from bottom ahead of a crucial game at home to fourth-bottom Wigan Athletic on Sunday.
"It was a disastrous first half and it cost us," said QPR manager Harry Redknapp. "We gave away the worst goals I've ever seen in my life. It was an absolute disaster, but then we got a goal back, came out in the second half and absolutely murdered them.
"We are not giving up. We have to beat Wigan."
QPR's pressing need for goals was evident in Redknapp's decision to hand erratic Moroccan playmaker Taarabt his first league start since February 23.
Fulham were unchanged from the team that won 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur in their last outing and although they quickly hit their stride, they were abetted by some appalling defending - most notably from Christopher Samba - from the visitors.