Steve McClaren praised his side’s second-half response after Queens Park Rangers almost completed a monumental comeback from 4-0 down against Birmingham.

After Che Adams’ hat-trick and Harlee Dean effort put the Blues four goals to the good after just 40 minutes before a double from Matt Smith either side of half-time gave Rangers hope.

After Jordan Cousins reduced the deficit further with just 10 minutes left, Nakhi Wells’ stoppage-time penalty was saved by the Birmingham keeper as City hung on.

Despite Rangers dropping to 15th place in the Championship, McClaren was pleased with his team’s reaction.

The QPR boss said: “The goal just before half-time gave us a lifeline. I said; ‘I’m not happy with this.

You’ve got to win the second half and keep a clean sheet’.

“I can’t fault them as they did that and the bonus would have been 4-4 and a point. It wasn’t to be and that’s football.

“The biggest thing is the reaction. What an effort from the players and we can take it on to the rest of the games this season.”

Adams’ 21-minute hat-trick threatened to embarrass Rangers as the striker’s treble meant he has now scored in six successive league games.

Dean compounded QPR’s misery with a headed goal but Smith’s finish from Luke Freeman’s corner gave them a slither of hope before half-time.

Smith scored again just after the break and Cousins’ late goal set up a tense finale before Wells had the chance to complete the comeback from the penalty spot.

Lee Camp’s penalty save consigned QPR to their fourth loss in a row, while the victorious visitors are now just four points off the play-off spots.

But McClaren was reluctant to blame his striker for missing, saying: “Nakhi knows. He’s old enough, he’s been through {it] and he’s experienced.

“That’s football. It’s a lot different standing here 4-4 than it is 4-3, but I always say to the players it’s about performance.

“First half, I couldn’t describe it in words, but the second half was pure joy and magnificent.

“We want to create a team that the fans are proud of, so that was important. The ovation they got at the end; the players deserved.

“The whole second half was just total domination – crosses, chances, great football, great endeavour and everything that you want out of your team – that you want to see – I think we showed in the second half and the crowd appreciated that.”