Sunderland – Mark Hughes received a vote of confidence from Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes, as the Londoners slumped into the relegation zone with a dismal 3-1 loss at Sunderland.

QPR had hoped to build on the momentum generated by their remarkable 3-2 win over Liverpool in midweek as they travelled to the Stadium of Light to face a Sunderland side beaten by struggling Blackburn in their last outing.

But instead it was an all too familiar story for Hughes and QPR as Djibril Cisse was sent off for a wild lunge on Fraizer Campbell to leave the Hoops Ä trailing 1-0 at the time Ä with a mountain to climb.

Predictably, Hughes' team never looked like finding a way back into the match as Sunderland goals from Nicklas Bendtner, James McClean and Stephane Sessesgnon sealed a comfortable win for Martin O'Neill's men.

Taye Taiwo scored a late consolation for QPR with an eye-catching free-kick but could not stop QPR slipping into the bottom three with a daunting run-in awaiting them over the final weeks of the season.

Nevertheless Hughes Ä who controversially replaced Neil Warnock in January Ä was given backing from QPR owner Fernandes following the defeat.

“The manager can do nothing if players keep getting sent off and booked,” Fernandes said on Twitter. “Mark Hughes is right guy and he has my support.”

But Fernandes was scathing of the disciplinary problems which have dogged Rangers throughout Hughes short reign.

Cisse's dismissal Ä the second of his QPR career Ä was the third red card since Hughes took over and means the former France international will now miss four games through suspension.

“I can't believe this. Red cards. Nothing to do with luck . Very frustrating,” Fernandes wrote.

“Crucial is for us to win home games. But boy we do make it dfficult,” he said in another Tweet, adding: “This is the first time I'm generally pissed off. We got to bloody keep 11 players on the pitch.” – Sapa-AFP