Middlesbrough v QPR
Team: Green, Hughes, Onuoha, Hill, Suk-Young, Benayoun (O’Neil), Kranjcar (Hoilett), Carroll, Barton, Morrison, Keane (Zamora).
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Simpson, Donaldson, Petrasso.
Attendance: 15,075 (including 533 R’s fans)
Middlesbrough pressed the self-destruct button in stoppage time and crashed to a 3-1 home defeat to QPR. Boro had led through George Friend, but Yossi Benayoun equalised and the game appeared to be heading for a draw.
However, the Boro goalkeeper, Dimi Konstantopoulos completely misjudged a back-pass, leaving Bobby Zamora free to stroll in and score during second-half injury time. And there was still time for Ravel Morrison to wrap it up for Harry Redknapp’s side.
QPR went close twice within the opening two minutes as Boro failed to clear a corner and Joey Barton’s 25-yard shot was palmed away by Konstantopoulos. Tom Carroll got to the re-bound but the Greek keeper blocked his close-range follow-up with his feet.
The home team then took control. Friend and Jacob Butterfield both had shots turned over by Rob Green, and Kei Kamara bundled an effort behind the goal from a free kick.
Rangers line up for a Boro free kick
Boro, though, scored the opener they deserved on 18 minutes as the left-back Friend wriggled into the penalty area from his flank and, although he stumbled and lost the ball, it was generously deflected back into his path and he stabbed a low, eight-yard shot that squirmed through the hands of Green and over the line.
Rangers hit back with an equaliser in first-half stoppage time. Boro’s defence was pulled out of shape and Niko Kranjcar nipped in to drill in a shot that was deflected kindly for Benayoun to rifle in from close range.
Rangers were brighter after the break and had the bulk of the play, but struggled to fashion anything of quality. Boro went close on 63 minutes when Albert Adomah neatly brought down a ball on the edge of the penalty area then skipped his marker to fire in a low shot that was straight at Green.
Second half handbags
QPR responded with Junior Hoilett streaking forward and slamming a low, 25-yard shot straight at Konstantopoulos, and the game seemed to be heading for a draw, when Boro completely lost their concentration in stoppage time.
Four minutes into added time, a routine ball was played back towards Konstantopoulos. The keeper came out and took a swing at an attempted clearance and missed completely, leaving Zamora free to stroll through and tap home. Two minutes later, Morrison ran behind the defence to collect a cross and finish emphatically from 15 yards.
It was very much a mixed bag from Rangers at the Riverside. A really strong start from Rangers with Barton being at the centre of everything, including the first shot which drew a double save from Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
Initially we were limiting Boro to punting long balls upfield to Danny Graham. But the opposition quickly realised that they had a little more space to play with in midfield and began to play some super passing football. Particularly impressive were Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah and winger Kei Kamara.
Rangers struggled particularly after conceding a soft goal to Boro. Left-back George Friend seemed to evade his man and a handball decision to fire home after 17 minutes.
We toiled with lots of ineffectual tippy-tappy play but failed to make much headway. First-half positives were Ravel Morrison who appeared comfortable on the ball, and pleasingly the performance of Yun Suk-Young who was good going forward.
Just before half-time Yossi Benayoun got on the end of a loose ball and netted from close range, very much against the run of play.
Rangers had the better of the second-half as Boro backed off and the visitors found more possession. A lot of that possession fell to Hoilett who reverted to type and frustrated with little end product.
This game was all about the injury time however. Konstantopolus fluffed his lines with a back-pass. Everything seemed to stop whilst sub Bobby Zamora ran onto the ball for the simplest of tap-ins.
Konstantopolus lies prostrate after his howler allows Rangers to take the lead
Two minutes later Morrison sent home a firecracker of a shot on his left foot to the delight of the 500+ travelling Rangers fans. Amazing scenes.
The result flattered Rangers, but Boro seemed to have the stuffing knocked out of them on the stroke of half-time. It was a very welcome three points after a patchy run.
MOTM – Ravel Morrison, a classy performance capped with a peach of a strike.
Photos provided by Sandra Sayce and are used with permission