Michu scored a brace as Swansea City comfortably beat Queens Park Rangers 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium in a result that could be a fatal blow to the Harry Redknapp's side's hopes of Premier League survival.
The hosts races into a two goal advantage inside twenty minutes thanks to strikes from Michu and Angel Rangel during an abject first-half QPR performance that saw the visitors fail to register a single shot on or off target.
The half-time introduction of Bobby Zamora completely changed the dynamics of the game and he halved the deficit with 48 minutes gone but Pablo Hernandez extinguished any hope of a comeback with a fine strike only two minutes later.
Michu then put added gloss to an already polished performance with a smart finish after 67 minutes to move his side into seventh.
Since his appointment, Redknapp’s side had gained 13 points from 12 games – and only lost three times – but a scoring record that read just three goals in their last eight top-flight matches had ensured that they were still marooned at the bottom of the table before their trip to Wales.
Rangers were without Loic Remy - who failed to recover from a groin strain – so Jamie Mackie continued in attack with Nedum Onuoha and Jermaine Jenas also starting; while the hosts welcomed back Michel Vorm in goal but Leon Britton missed out with the knee injury he sustained in last weekend's defeat at West Ham.
Much of QPR’s success under Redknapp have come in the shape of tight defensive performances but little of that was evident as the side from Loftus Road fell to a two goal disadvantage with under twenty minutes on the clock.
First, having allowed Nathan Dyer too much space on the edge of the box to measure a shot, the QPR back four were far too slow to react to Julio Cesar's parry and thus allowed a poacher of Michu’s calibre a pretty rudimentary close-range finish with eight minutes gone.
Cesar, who has been the stand-out performer during a desperate season, will have been disappointed not to have pushed Dyer’s strike wide of the goal rather than straight out into the area but there was not much he could do about the second with only 18 minutes gone.
Having been left horribly exposed by his defence, he did well to save Rangel’s first shot but could do nothing to prevent the second as the defender followed up to bundle the ball over the line from just outside the six-yard box.
Set up to defend deep and snatch a winner, QPR had little in response to falling two goals down and were particularly hamstrung by the inability of their forward men to hold the ball up when they made the odd foray forward.
Swansea were imperious in midfield with their fluid advanced midfield three of Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Hernandez picking up pockets of space, but, for all their dominance, the Swans failed to really carve out further clear-cut chances.
Their best chance fell to Michu but his volley on the run was well blocked by Clint Hill. QPR failed to muster a single shot during the opening half as Redknapp cut an increasingly infuriated figure as the half drew to a close.
Zamora was introduced to offer the visitors more of a presence up front come the second-half, and his impact was immediate when he followed up a saved Adel Taarabt shot to halve the deficit with the half only three minutes old.
But any hope of a QPR comeback were all but extinguished when Michu found compatriot Hernandez in space down the left only two minutes later. The Spanish winger meandered toward the by-line before somehow squeezing the ball past Cesar from an almost impossible angle.
QPR’s improvement wasn’t fleeting though as they continued to put the Swans’ defence under pressure and they should have had a penalty just shy of the hour mark when Ashley Williams punched an Andros Townsend cross clear with Zamora lurking.
It was inexplicable that the match officials missed it and Redknapp will point to the moment as pivotal, but, truth be told, it was nothing short of deserved when Michu latched on to a Hernandez through-ball and held off Christopher Samba before slipping the ball past Cesar to make it four with 67 minutes gone.
Credit to QPR, they fought to the end and second-half substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips hit the bar in the dying minutes with an instinctive volley but time is running out for this expensively assembled squad to close the gap on the sides around them.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Michu (Swansea) – A double from the forward coupled with an assist made the former Rayo Vallecano man the difference between the two sides.
Swansea City: Vorm 5, Rangel 7, Chico 5, Williams 6, Davies 6, De Guzman 7, Ki 7, Dyer 7, Routledge 7, Hernandez 8, Michu 9. Subs: Bartley 6, Moore 5, Agustien 5.
Queens Park Rangers: Cesar 5, Traore 5, Derry 5, Samba 5, Hill 5, Taarabt 5, Mackie 5, Onuoha 4, Jenas 4, Townsend 5, Mbia 5. Subs: Wright-Phillips 6, Granero 6, Zamora 6.