Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez struck as a dominant Manchester City narrowly saw off QPR at the Etihad Stadium.
Sixteen weeks after the dramatic season finale that crowned City Barclays Premier League champions at the same ground, the hosts survived another scare against the side led by their former manager, Mark Hughes.
Despite creating a multitude of chances, City needed a quick response from Dzeko after Bobby Zamora cancelled out Toure's effort but Tevez made the scoreline more convincing in injury time.
City, who were watched by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho ahead of their Champions League meeting, soon established control with Dzeko, starting for the first time this season, glancing a header wide from a corner. The Bosnian went even closer at another corner but Fabio da Silva hacked the ball off the line. Toure powered in on the rebound but Shaun Wright-Phillips blocked.
The home side took the lead in the 16th minute as Tevez saw an effort blocked from yet another corner but Toure followed up to thump home.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero had QPR's first shot when he found space outside the area but Joe Hart was not troubled. David Silva tricked his way into the QPR box and dug the ball out from under his feet to force Rob Green to save and Samir Nasri was unable to follow up.
Silva spurned another opportunity when he was played through by a superb long ball from Aleksandr Kolarov. The Spaniard failed to get away a shot quick enough and Fabio produced another timely block. Tevez fired over as City continued to power forward but Rodwell opted to pass instead of shoot.
City returned for the second half with much the same approach as the first and threatened a second straight from the restart as Tevez drilled an awkward shot at Green. Pablo Zabaleta went even closer as he took a pass from Silva and curled an effort onto the bar.
QPR levelled against the run of play just before the hour. Andrew Johnson stole possession outside the area and forced a good save from Hart with a deflected shot that Zamora headed home.
Parity lasted less than two minutes as City swiftly moved back up the field and Tevez crossed for Dzeko to head home at close range. City wrapped up the match in injury time as Tevez, moving back into an onside position, diverted the ball home from Dzeko's shot.
|09 Feb 2013||v Southampton (A)|
|03 Nov 2012||v West Ham (A)|
|25 Nov 2012||v Chelsea (A)|
|15 Sep 2012||v Stoke (A)|
|29 Dec 2012||v Norwich (A)|
|03 Feb 2013||v Liverpool (H)|