Team: Green, Isla, Onuoha, Caulker, Suk-Young (Hill), Phillips, Barton, Sandro, Vargas (Kranjcar), Austin, Zamora (Henry).
Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Doughty, Sutherland, Hoilett
Attendance: 25,735 (including 2,241 R’s fans)
Queen’s Park Rangers stunned West Bromwich Albion with three first-half goals as they secured a precious second away victory of the season at the Hawthorns.
Goals from Eduardo Vargas, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora laid the foundations for an emphatic result which lifts Rangers prospects of avoiding relegation.
Victor Anichebe’s 58th minute goal briefly promised a fight-back but Joey Barton added a fourth goal late on after Youssouf Mulumbu had been shown a red card.
While their travels on the road have been well documented, Rangers started this fixture with the disposition of a side that looked finally capable of addressing their perilous Premier League position.
Time is not a commodity they have much of. Eight games remain, each point is precious.
As Matt Phillips evaded the attentions of Chris Brunt and Joleon Lesott within the first minute to serve notice of Rangers intent – that realisation looked to have finally dawned on Chris Ramsey’s players.
Phillips threatened again three minutes later. His shot was easily saved but this was encouraging fare for the visiting supporters tucked away in the Smethwick End Stand.
As expected though, West Brom rallied, Chris Baird galloped forward from right-back and Darren Fletcher began to prompt and probe in midfield. It should have provided a goal. Fletcher’s beautifully curled cross was inch perfect for Brown Ideye but the forward headed over while attempting to generate more power from his header.
And so often is the case in football, failure at one end of the pitch results in a goal at the other. And so it came to fruition again as the visitors grabbed a 15th minute advantage.
Rob Green’s resulting goal kick was only partially cleared by the home defence allowing Vargas to collect the ball in midfield and stride purposefully forward before angling a 25-yard drive past Boaz Myhill.
The away fans roared their encouragement though Ideye almost restored parity four minutes later but reacted too slowly to steer Baird’s fizzed cross inside the right-hand post.
Vargas left the field on the half-hour mark, worryingly nursing a knee complaint picked up without an opposition player near him. It mattered little to his team mates who stunned Albion by building a match-winning lead in the space of seven minutes.
Austin was left unguarded at the far post to nod substitute Niko Kranjcar’s flick-on beyond Myhill for a 37th minute second. If the nature of that goal was uncharacteristic of a Pulis team, Rangers third in the 43rd minute left them shell-shocked.
Joleon Lescott was culpable with a poor headed clearance that allowed Phillips to play the ball down the right channel to Zamora. With Lescott chasing him down, Zamora appeared short of options but he suddenly let fly with the outside of his left boot to execute the most audacious and exquisite of lobs which caught the advancing Myhill unawares.
Substitute Victor Anichebe’s 58th minute header provided hope but when his fellow replacement Youssouf Mulumbu was dismissed for elbowing Joey Barton the game was all but over and Barton added a fourth goal deep in injury time.
Steven Sutcliffe – The Telegraph
When Paul collected me in Harrow Weald, already on board were Bulgarian R (Alex), plus Ian and his Dad. As on recent trips to the Hawthorns, we headed to ‘The Vine’, which is situated about a mile from the ground. The indoor BBQ at the back of the pub was already in full swing, serving tandoori chicken with a choice of chips or naan bread.
Eduardo Vargas put us in front after 14 minutes with a well-placed shot from outside the box. But fourteen minutes later he caught his studs in the turf and went down in great distress! Despite attempts to continue, he was soon forced off with around 30 minutes gone.
Charlie Austin headed in our second from close range provoking wild celebrations from the travelling R’s fans!
As some fans began drifting off for the interval, Bobby Zamora scored an outstanding goal in the 43rd minute. Lifting the ball on the run with the outside of his foot over a bemused Boaz Myhill. Absolutely wonderful!!!
However, West Brom did pull one back in the 58th minute and the home side also went very close on a couple of occasions, including an incredible miss from Brown Ideye!
Following a collision it was obvious that Yun Suk-Young was suffering from concussion, and, as with Vargas in the first-half, this prompted sections of the home crowd to boo and Tony Pulis to jump about and complain!!!
Mulumbu was shown red for dangerous play after 83 minutes and Joey Barton rounded off a superb team performance when he scored our fourth during the six added minutes.
Well done to Chris Ramsey and all the team and I must also mention the noise levels generated by over 2,000 jubilant R’s fans. Loud and proud!
My thanks to Paul for the lift.