Gareth Barry endured a miserable return to captaincy duties as QPR's Damion Stewart dumped Aston Villa out of the Carling Cup with the only goal at Villa Park.
Stewart headed home after 58 minutes to put the Coca-Cola Championship side into the fourth round as a reshuffled Villa side struggled to find any fluency.
Barry was one of only five survivors from Villa's Premier League victory over West Brom and was asked to lead the side for the first time since his dream move to Liverpool fell through. But despite a lively display from Ashley Young, Villa could not find the goal they needed to force extra-time.
Villa had an excellent chance to open the scoring in the 10th minute after fine work down the left from Barry and Nicky Shorey provided Stiliyan Petrov with possession just outside the box.
The Bulgaria international opted not to shoot, instead rolling the ball delicately into Marlon Harewood's path only for the striker to curl his effort over the crossbar from six-yards out.
Young, predictably, was involved in Villa's next good chance, springing the offside trap before trapping the ball on the touchline and drilling it into the box. His pass took a deflection before finding Harewood, who snatched at a tough chance and powered it into the stand.
Former Watford man Young, the liveliest player on the pitch by a handsome margin, looked as though he would send Villa into the break ahead but his sweetly-hit effort curled just wide of the far post.
Then, with 58 minutes on the clock, Rangers took an unlikely lead. The away side won a disputed corner and although that was cleared, Daniel Parejo - on loan from Real Madrid - floated the ball back into the penalty area where Stewart rose to nod a bullet header beyond Bradley Guzan.
After 75 minutes, the chance of an equaliser came and went as Barry spurned the chance to cap his return as skipper with a goal.
Carew flicked on a high ball leaving the onrushing Barry clear on goal. The England midfielder opted to chip the advancing Radek Cerny but failed to hit the target. Wayne Routledge then screwed a presentable chance wide with three minutes to play, ending Villa's hopes of a sixth League Cup with a whimper.
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