FA Cup 4th Round
Team: Kenny, Hill, Young, Hall, Ferdinand, Mackie, Buzsaky (Hulse), Barton, Smith, Wright-Phillips, Helguson (Macheda)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Orr, Derry, Ephraim, Onuoha
Attendance: 15,728 (including 3,114 visitors)
Not a great performance from the R’s and I had the feeling that Chelsea did not really get out of second gear. I’d have loved to have beaten them, but frankly, a defeat was better than a draw – although I know that sounds weird. I’d have been delighted to go through to the 5th Round, but had no desire to have to play a replay. It is time now to focus on what was always the priority – Premiership survival. I thought that the Rangers support was generally good and that Chelsea were a lot more subdued than I had expected.
Andres Villas-Boas was his usual ridiculous self. When interviewed on ‘5 Live’ after the game and asked about whether he felt the penalty was fortunate, he replied that the last time they played at Loftus Road they finished with nine men. The guy’s a buffoon ! What was wrong with either of those two sending’s off ? Fool ! How I would have loved to have given them a hiding, but the plain fact is we didn’t, time to move on.
Juan Mata’s hotly-disputed penalty helped Chelsea secure victory in a tempestuous FA Cup fourth-round tie at West London rivals QPR. A match that for an hour was completely devoid of the kind of flashpoints that marred October’s Barclays Premier League meeting suddenly had one when Clint Hill was harshly adjudged to have bundled over Daniel Sturridge. Mata stepped up to score the only goal of a game dominated by the re-union between Chelsea captain John Terry and Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, neither of whom put a foot wrong following what had been the most combustible of build-ups.
The match itself was always going to struggle to live up to the drama that preceded it, which culminated in full body searches for fans entering the ground and the cancellation of the traditional pre-match handshake. The former was prompted after police had confirmed they were investigating allegations that Ferdinand had received “malicious communication”, although they refused to reveal whether it contained a bullet.
Ferdinand and Terry were spared having to shake hands with each other after the Football Association agreed the clubs did not have to undertake the traditional pre-match ritual. Ferdinand had reportedly been agonising over whether to accept Terry’s hand four days before the court case begins in which the Chelsea and England captain stands accused of racially abusing his fellow defender. Terry denies the charge, which relates to an altercation between the pair in October’s league clash at Loftus Road. But that did not prevent him being jeered every time he touched the ball, while he was also the victim of numerous abusive taunts.
Chelsea fans refrained from using the notorious “Anton Ferdinand, you know what you are” chant that they were warned would see them punished, although they did sing “Anton, what’s the score ?” after the visitors took the lead. Both sets of supporters cranked up the decibel level before kick-off, but had little to cheer in a disappointing first half that saw only one shot on target. That came after Mata, playing more centrally in the absence of Frank Lampard, pounced on a Luke Young slip in the 12th minute and unleashed a 15-yard drive too close to Paddy Kenny. Otherwise, the final ball from both sides was sadly lacking, meaning a succession of speculative efforts that were well off target.
A fixture that had seen Chelsea reduced to nine men in October was also a more controlled affair and it was almost half-an-hour before Mike Dean brandished the first yellow card for a Shaun Wright-Phillips foul on Raul Meireles. Ramires should have done better with a great cutback opportunity after being released by a wonderful Mata back-heel, but neither side deserved to be ahead at half-time.
QPR threw on Federico Macheda for Heidar Helguson at the re-start, but it was Chelsea who flew out of the blocks, with Fitz Hall booked for handball before Sturridge lashed over after great work from Fernando Torres. But the game really exploded into life on the hour mark, Petr Cech parried a Wright-Phillips cross just too far in front of the outstretched foot of Jamie Mackie and Chelsea surged down the other end and won a penalty. QPR were furious at the award, but Mata shrugged off the jeers to score, the midfielder celebrating with most of his team-mates in front of the visiting fans. Terry was a notable absentee.
Ashley Cole was carded for fouling Wright-Phillips before Chelsea lost Ramires to a serious-looking injury. The midfielder appeared to twist his ankle blocking a shot – and after several minutes’ treatment – was carried off on a stretcher to be replaced by Oriol Romeu. QPR has already thrown on Rob Hulse, who was denied a penalty in the dying minutes. And there was a flashpoint deep into stoppage-time when Romeu was booked for diving in on Hulse, with Young almost snatching a draw when his 20-yard drive was parried by Cech.
Ben Rumsby – The Independent
At least eventually someone saw sense when the FA ordered that there would be no pre-match ritualised handshake after all. Apparently the Rangers players weren’t going to oblige anyway. Anton Ferdinand was already under immense pressure without the media raising the temperature and others telling him what he should or shouldn’t do ! What a relief it was when the players ran out on to the pitch. Well done to the players, who together with the fans supported one of our own.
As expected there was a massive police presence and I was told that some of them were even armed. The match was decided by a disgraceful penalty award. It really was a terrible decision by the referee. A match of few chances, Helguson picked up an injury and it has to be said that Rob Hulse was extremely lively when he entered the arena. Rangers gave the ball away far too often and sat deep as the game generally went flat. One light hearted moment came when a Rangers fan in the Upper Loft leapt into the TV gantry and performed as some sort of conductor on his podium. R’S fans then duly obliged with a chorus of: “He’s Queen’s Park Rangers, he does what he wants.”
(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)