Team: Green, Samba, Hill, Bosingwa, Fabio, Park, Townsend, Mbia, Hoilett (Wright-Phillips), Remy (Jenas), Zamora (Mackie)
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Onuoha, Granero, Bothroyd
Queen’s Park Rangers took another big step towards reigniting the race for Premier League safety with a convincing 3-1 win against Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland side. Harry Redknapp once again raised eyebrows by omitting Adel Taarabt from the matchday squad. Bobby Zamora however returned to the starting eleven upfront with Loic Remy. Ji-Sung Park and Stephane Mbia took up position in the midfield with Junior Hoilett and Andros Townsend on the flanks.
(The players shake hands)
Rangers looked like a proper team from the off and played with a swagger rarely seen since their ascent to the top flight. Park and Mbia both looked comfortable passing the ball around whilst Hoilett and Townsend provided a pacy threat on the wings. Hoilett ably demonstrated this on nine minutes, cutting in from the left at lightning pace and shooting just wide of Mignolet’s goal.
(Alfred N’Diaye gets to grips with Chris Samba)
The Loftus Road faithful began to get that all-too-familiar sinking feeling however when Sunderland snatched an advantage against the run of play on 19 minutes. The lively Stephane Sessegnon crossed from the right on a rare foray forward for Adam Johnson to centre into the path of Steven Fletcher for a relatively easy finish.
The Black Cats began to get more of a foothold on the fixture until ten minutes later when Townsend took a shot in an advanced position. It ricocheted off John O’Shea into the path of Remy. The Frenchman made no mistake and greedily levelled with a clinical finish.
The second-half commenced with a 15-minutes spell of pressure once again for Sunderland. The away team had chances from Sessegnon and Johnson, but lacked the real teeth and ambition to make it count. This timidity was underlined when Martin O’Neill replaced the quiet Danny Graham with Spurs loanee left-back Danny Rose.
Rangers stepped it up a gear and shocked everyone on 69 minutes when Townsend chested down a headed clearance 25 yards out. With beautiful control and technique, the youngster smashed the ball with a sweet left foot, sending the ball careering up and over Mignolet into the goal. It was a fantastic strike which capped off a man-of-the-match display from Townsend.
(Townsend’s wonder strike flies goalwards past the stricken Mignolet)
However Rangers were not finished yet. On 89 minutes, good work in the box from substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips led to the ball being cleared out to Jermaine Jenas. Fellow substitute Jenas lashed in a ferocious low drive to the left of the diving Mignolet.
(Jenas lets fly to complete a marvellous afternoon at Loftus Road)
This was one of the most exciting and complete performances seen from QPR since the Championship promotion season. It feels like something has changed, like a boil has been lanced, almost as if the Dubai controversy has girded the passions and efforts of the collective spirit. A Mark Hughes team would have struggled and capitulated after going down to an early goal. But Redknapp’s team fought back, and with some style.
Former outcasts can take a lot of credit on a day it was hard to single out anyone who had a bad game. Special mention must go to Jose Bosingwa who undoubtedly had his best performance in the hoops. He was confident and assured and was strong both going forward and in defence.
The debate rages over various message boards and Twitter over the cause and right-and-wrongs of Taarabt’s freezing out. With everything, including survival, now to play for, it is gratifying at the very least that we are not reliant on one player to help us out of the hole we are in.
Great performance all round, atmosphere was brilliant, heads never dropped when we went a goal down. We continued playing well as we had been, got that little bit of luck we deserved with the deflection to Remy, but he finished in classy style.
Bosingwa was good, Townsend is a revelation and Hoilett was well involved as was Shaun Wright-Phillips when he came on. All our goals were quality and it would have been nice if Jamie Mackie had knocked in the fourth, really thought he would.
I thought Harry Redknapp’s substitutions were very positive considering we were a goal ahead. Robert Green didn’t really have very much to do and the defence handled everything well, a very confident performance.
One of the lads at work said to me:”Don’t come back sad” – I didn’t, I was smiling all the way back to Dublin and I still am !
A very happy journey back home on the train for a change. I had celebrated with a pint at Paddington Station and missed the train !
Definitely the best I’ve seen us play this season, Sunderland were really only in it for the first 15 minutes after half-time. We had a team full of players on Saturday and it showed, okay Clint Hill excepted but he’s got other just as important qualities. I also thought that Bosingwa had his best game by far.
Great reaction in the dugout from Remy and Hoilett when the third went in, it was hugs all round ! A great team performance and roll on next week.
South Devon R
(Photographs provided by Sandra Sayce and are used with permission)