Team: Green, Isla, Dunne, Caulker, Suk-Young, Vargas (Traore), Henry, Sandro, Fer (Kranjcar), Zamora (Hoilett), Austin.
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Ferdinand, Hill. Phillips
Attendance: 18,022 (including 1,845 Villa fans)
How Queen’s Park Rangers needed this result. Harry Redknapp has cut a disconsolate figure for the most part this season but two goals from Charlie Austin lifted his side off the foot of the Premier League and also lifted the gloom that has been hovering over the London club following a week of internal mudslinging.
And all without Adel Taarabt, the Moroccan midfielder whose weight has dominated headlines this past week and even prompted Tony Fernandes, the Rangers chairman, to speak to both player and manager about bringing embarrassment on the club.
Taarabt was not needed against an insipid Aston Villa. With Austin, who scored either side of half-time, and Bobby Zamora, QPR caused their opponents enough problems, Villa unable to cope with the physical threat and lacking any attacking ideas of their own. Paul Lambert’s side have now lost five games in succession and have not scored in any of those defeats.
They started well but except for a single 15-minute spell they showed little sign of breaking QPR’s resistance. In defence, Ron Vlaar was left wanting when up against Zamora while Austin’s movement was too much for a team bereft of confidence.
“I thought the two goals we lost were really poor,” said Lambert. “I think that is the most we have had of the ball, possession-wise, but that is why I’m never one for stats. The main stat is putting the ball in the net and keeping it out. I thought we defended poorly for the two goals. We have got to be more clinical in the last third of the pitch but the two goals were disappointing because we had most of the ball.”
On his side’s lack of goals, Lambert added: “I tend not to get them down on that. They will come out of the traps on Sunday (against Tottenham) and I know we are going to be all right in that department because, when Benteke gets up to speed and, with Agbonlahor, Weimann, N’Zogbia and Bent, there are guys there with goals in them and it will happen.”
For Redknapp, though, the emotions were contrasting following a much-needed victory that allowed QPR to climb above Burnley to 19th in the table.
Their defence was all at sea for the opening 15 minutes but they survived the early pressure despite an array of sloppy mistakes. First it was Yun Suk-Young who stumbled in possession and gave away a corner, then on the opposite flank Mauricio Isla’s heavy back-pass forced Robert Green into a hasty clearance. Ashley Westwood shot straight at Green and Villa’s bright young midfielder Carlos Sanchez volleyed at the Rangers goalkeeper after 15 minutes.
When QPR’s first goal came, it was against the run of play. They had, in fact, barely threatened but Richard Dunne’s raking long ball from defence found its target in Zamora, the striker beating Vlaar in the air and laying the ball off to Austin, whose shot was low and pure into Brad Guzan’s bottom right corner.
“It was an excellent performance, I thought we did ever so well,” said Redknapp. “They started to get a bit of the ball in the second-half and dominate the possession but I felt when we changed it and we tightened up in the middle then suddenly we started getting hold of the ball and I thought we dominated them. Over all I thought we deserved the win.”
It is not difficult to understand why Villa have failed to break opponents down recently. Granted their recent run of defeats have come against teams at the top end of the division but too often Christian Benteke was left isolated here, with only Gabriel Agbonlahor providing any semblance of attacking verve in the final third.
And when the opportunities did come, they were squandered. A free kick from deep was hung up to the far post in the 56th minute, aimed at Benteke, and the Belgian forward nodded the ball across goal to Ciaran Clark. However, the centre-half was unable to make decisive contact from inside the six-yard box. Benteke and Joe Cole got in each other’s way when attacking a cross from the right.
Junior Hoilett was brought on by QPR with a little over an hour played and almost made an immediate impact, drifting in from the left and curling a delightful effort that rebounded back off a post.
Rangers’ second was again a simple goal, but brilliantly executed. In the 69th minute Sanchez, so bright in the opening half, gave the ball away in midfield and Vargas broke swiftly down the right, pulling it back to the near post where Austin sprinted across his marker to finish deftly.
James Riach – The Guardian
It was good to see Eamonn (as always) in the Crown & Sceptre before the game and also to meet Lisa Hillman once again. Lisa, originally from Greenford, organised the pre-match R’s meet-up in Athlone during the summer.
Peter Hucker and Rufus Brevett were interviewed on the pitch before kick-off and apparently Andy Sinton was a guest in the W12 Suite.
After some initial pressure from the visitors Rangers took the lead. As the ball was launched up-field I heard someone in front of me remark to his mate something like: “Oh no, we’re never going to score from a long ball” as Bobby Zamora chested it down into the path of Charlie Austin who drilled it into the corner of the net!
In the 63rd minute, Junior Hoilett replaced Bobby Zamora. Within minutes of his introduction, he cut in from the left-wing and his shot from just outside the box hit the right-hand post. And then a couple of minutes after that, following a concerted run down the right flank, Eduardo Vargas put a good ball into the box which resulted in a superb finish by Charlie Austin for number two. Vargas looked like adding a third in the 76th minute when one-on-one with the keeper after a through ball by Junior Hoilett, but Guzan denied him.
Although Villa enjoyed 65% of the possession, they rarely looked dangerous in the final third. Rob Green did make some excellent stops and with so many good performances it’s hard to pick a MOM from between Charlie Austin, Yun Suk-Young and Richard Dunne.