Team: McCarthy, Onuoha, Hill, Dunne, Suk-Young (Kpekawa), Phillips, Henry (Comley), Barton, Fer, Austin, Grego-Cox
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Furlong, Hoilett, Doughty, Petrasso
Attendance: 31,467 (including 1,595 R’s fans)
It was party time at the King Power Stadium, hardly surprising as Leicester’s owners were offering supporters free beer before kick-off, and the home fans’ celebratory chants of: “We are staying up” were greeted by QPR’s supporters showing their own brand of gallows humour.
‘That’s why we’re going down,” sang the small band of travelling fans (1,595), when QPR youngster Reece Grego-Cox missed a simple chance shortly after half-time.
A lack of goals is only part of the problem for Chris Ramsey, who admitted afterwards he has a major re-building job on his hands if he is to lead QPR back out of the Championship.
Their defence was a shambles once again – “schoolboy defending” admitted the manager – and even without the ‘bad eggs’ that Joey Barton alluded to recently, there was a lack of spark or spirit about Rangers, who finished the season bottom of the league.
Leicester, by contrast, were terrific, playing with a verve and freedom that had been constrained by a relegation battle, which for them ended last week when they drew at Sunderland to confirm another season of Premier League football.
Nigel Pearson was both relieved and vindicated, having had more ups and downs than most managers, including his infamous ostrich rant last month. The club’s backroom staff wore t-shirts bearing ostrich emblems on their post-match lap of honour, and Pearson could afford to laugh, having pulled off a remarkable feat by finishing in 14th place.
Leicester looked dead and buried at the beginning of April, bottom of the table and seven points adrift of safety, but a run of seven wins and a draw in their final nine games brought 22 points from a possible 27 and kept them up.
“The task looked daunting, if not impossible, a few weeks ago, so there was a lot of relief after last week, and there was a question over whether we could rise to the occasion today,” he said. “But we played with a ruthless edge today and that was important.”
No one showed it more than Jamie Vardy, who was called into the England squad this week barely three years after moving out of non-league football. The striker celebrated by opening the scoring in the 16th minute, tapping in from close range after Alex McCarthy, QPR’s stand-in goalkeeper, spilled a long shot from Riyad Mahrez.
Vardy is not prolific but he is quick, dangerous and works his socks off, something QPR’s players would do well to emulate. He went close to scoring again twice before Marc Albrighton made it 2-0 before half-time, drilling in a low shot as QPR’s defence stood and watched.
Half-time brought little respite for QPR. Leonardo Ulloa deflected a Wes Morgan shot past McCarthy with his thigh to make it 3-0 five minutes after the break, and Esteban Cambiasso added a fourth with a low shot shortly afterwards.
Although Charlie Austin celebrated his own England call-up by heading home a Barton free kick in the 57th minute for his 18th goal of the season, Leicester substitute Andrej Kramaric made it 5-1 in the closing stages.
Gerry Cox – The Telegraph (extract)