Manchester City 3, Q.P.R. 2 (Zagat-style)

Manchester City, with its “title hopes fading by the second, its anguished fans in disbelief in the stands,” “threw all its attacking might forward to produce one of English soccer’s greatest comebacks.”

“City took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but then went down 2-1 after the break despite QPR captain Joey Barton being sent off in the 55th, leaving his team with 10 men the rest of the way.” “What happened next was so extraordinary it is difficult to know if there are enough superlatives in existence to do it justice.”

Edin Dzeko headed in with the clock showing 91 min 15 sec,” then Sergio “Aguero showed great clarity of thought and composure amid the mayhem to drive into the area and beat Kenny with a powerful low finish.” “City had wrenched the title out of Manchester United’s grasp, with 60 seconds to spare and the Etihad Stadium crowd roared and sobbed and bounced and screamed.”

“QPR manager Mark Hughes felt his side switched off once they knew they had achieved safety” — “Bolton’s draw at Stoke meant Rangers stayed in the Premier League.”

via Yahoo! Sports; The Guardian; ESPN; BBC Sport; West London Sport; and Kilburn Times

Manchester United 2, Q.P.R. 0 (Zagat-style)

“Already massive underdogs against the champions,” 10-man “QPR were well beaten at Old Trafford.”

Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes scored in each half” – for Scholes, “it was his third league goal since coming out of retirement in January” – “as Premier League leader Manchester” “United’s “eighth straight league win increased the pressure on crosstown rival Manchester City.”

In the 14th minute, “Ashley Young, feeling a hand placed upon him by Shaun Derry, went down as if wearing Tom Daley‘s trunks. The argument will go that Derry should not have touched Young,” but “the sending off of the visitors’ captain made it a triple whammy of suspect officiating as” “Young was a few feet offside.” If the whistle had blown, “Mark Hughes‘s side would have been punting the free-kick away instead of restarting 1-0 and a man down.”

“United should have run up a huge score, such was their overwhelming dominance thereafter.” As it was, it was huge enough, and “the defeat leaves QPR on 28 points, only outside the three-team relegation positions on goal difference ahead of Blackburn and Wigan.”

via West London Sport; Yahoo! Sports; Telegraph; The Guardian; ITN.co.uk; and Businessweek.

Q.P.R. Sends Up the White Flag

Going up against Arsenal and Manchester United, we’re going to have to make sure we put a shift in and make sure that we can make better decisions than we did today.

via QPR boss wants side to show character for Arsenal and Man Utd games – QPR – Kilburn Times.

Never mind actually trying to win, Mark Hughes seems to be saying, just let us appear to be trying to win.

It is probably not hard to find a professional sports team that flubbed its opportunities as thoroughly as Queens Park Rangers are doing. But that takes nothing away from the developing catastrophe on Loftus Road. The previous owners were famously derided for envisioning the club as a soccer “boutique.” That goal, albeit an absurd one, was at least attainable.

Sunderland 3, Q.P.R. 1 (Zagat-style)

Sunderland cruised to a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light to pile pressure on Mark Hughes’ QPR.”

Joey Barton said he was at an all-time low before kick-off after being dropped [from the lineup] by Mark Hughes, but you sense Queens Park Rangers could fall even lower after this woeful performance.”

“QPR had not managed to keep a clean sheet since beating Chelsea on 23 October” and “was already a goal down when [Djibril] Cisse’s two-footed tackle on substitute Fraizer Campbell earned him a second sending off in only his fifth QPR match.” “Cissé will receive a four-match ban to add to the three he served following his dismissal against Wolves.”

Rangers struggled with “10 men but pulled a goal back in the 79th minute.” “However, it proved to be a consolation as Sunderland held on to take all three points and QPR fell back into the relegation zone.”

via Telegraph; BBC Sport; ClubCall.com; BBC Sport; and Associated Press; The Observer.

Q.P.R. 3, Liverpool 2 (Zagat-style)

QPR were a shambles early on as Samba Diakite and [Joey] Barton both misplaced passes leading to Liverpool attacks.” Liverpool Manager Kenny “Dalglish stated that Liverpool should have been ‘three, four’ goals to the good by half-time – and that was no exaggeration.”

Pero “cuando todo indicaba a que los visitantes se terminarían llevando la victoria de manera muy cómoda, comenzó lo que nadie imaginó.” Rangers scored “three goals in the final 14 minutes,” leaving “Liverpool stunned and [giving] Rangers only their second league victory under manager Mark Hughes.”

With his team trailing by 2-0, Shaun “Derry rose high at a corner kick to head home powerfully from inside the penalty area to drag his side back into the clash in the 77th minute.” Djibril Cisse, “who had promised to show his former employers no mercy,” scored with “an imperious header from a Taye Taiwo cross four minutes from time to restore parity.”

“Liverpool were reeling,” and “José Enrique‘s inexplicable tumble that allowed Jamie Mackie in for the stoppage-time winning goal summed up the visitors’ haplessness.”

“It could be a defining moment and we have to make sure that it is,” [Hughes] said.”

via Liverpool Echo; Futbol Ingles ; West London Sport; Yahoo! Eurosport; London 24; The Guardian; Kilburn Times; and Telegraph.

Q.P.R. 1, Everton 1

QPR were unable to eke out a winner against Everton.” Rangers, “who have won only two of their 14 Premier League home matches,” “teeter dangerously over the drop zone with a tough-looking batch of fixtures remaining.”

“Everton went ahead through a fizzing long-range strike from Royston Drenthe in the 31st minute before Bobby Zamora bundled home the equaliser five minutes later.” Rangers “could have won if Akos Buzsaky had not missed an open goal which, as one wag pointed out, might have been scored by the squirrel that spent a good ten minutes in Everton’s half in the closing stages of the first period.”

“QPR will feel they missed a chance with Wigan and Bolton losing and Blackburn drawing.”

Rangers Manager Mark Hughes told reporters, “We were excellent in terms of closing people down and obviously trying to effect the game in a positive manner going the other way.”

via Telegraph; SuperSport ; The Observer; ClubCall.com; and EatSleepSport

Fulham 1, Q.P.R. 0 (Zagat-style)

Pavel Pogrebnyak, signed on the day Bobby Zamora moved [from Fulham] to QPR, settled a one-sided derby with a beautifully crafted early goal.” “He latched onto a superb back-heel from Moussa Dembele to round the keeper.”

“QPR were little short of a shambles in the first half, well before the dismissal of [Samba] Diakité.” And so Fulham celebrated “only their second away league win of the season, and continuing ascent to mid-table safety.”

It “might not have equalled the 6-0 defeat [Fulham] inflicted on [Q.P.R.] earlier this season, but it will feel every bit as sweet against [Rangers Manager Mark Hughes,] who quit Craven Cottage in the summer” “after just one season in charge, hinting that he didn’t think the club could match his ambitions.”

via Kilburn Times; BBC Sport; West London Sport; The Observer; Telegraph; and ClubCall.com;

Blackburn 3, Q.P.R. 2 (Zagat-style)

QPR’s relegation worries increased after what could prove to be a disastrous defeat against fellow strugglers Blackburn.” For Rovers, it was an “ideal response to last weekend’s humiliating 7-1 defeat at Arsenal.”

“Hosting Rovers put the game out of the reach of Rangers before the break by scoring three goals without reply,” “although two goals from the substitute Jamie Mackie set up a frantic finale.” “Despite their late rally, Mark Hughes’s side,” which has “won just one of their last 13 Premier League matches,” “were made to pay for a poor first half display, where they looked like a team still getting used to playing with one another.”

via Sports Mole; The Observer; West London Sport; Telegraph; BBC Sport; Sky Sports

Postscript

Of course, a team “getting used to playing with one another” is exactly what Rangers are — for the second, or maybe the third, time this season. Whatever chemistry Q.P.R. possessed coming out of the Championship was erased by half-hearted and hurried acquisitions — D. J. CampbellDanny GabbidonKieron Dyer and Jay Bothroyd — just before the season. The team’s lack of progress in September and October compelled the former manager, Neil Warnock, to erractically shuffle his lineup, and the talented Adel Taarabt was alternately embraced and alienated. And, now, the club has absorbed another round of newcomers — Nedum Onuoha, Djibril Cisse, Taye Taiwo and Bobby Zamora.

Thirteen games remain to somehow pick up the 17 or so points necessary to avoid relegation.

Wolverhampton 2, Q.P.R. 1 (Zagat-style)

“Wolves came from behind to inflict QPR’s sixth home defeat of the season.”

“It had looked like QPR boss Mark Hughes would be going home with the three points after debutant Bobby Zamora fired QPR into a deserved lead.” “Adel Taarabt – recalled following his return from the African Cup of Nations – played a neat one-two on the edge of the box with Zamora.”

But “Cissé was sent off for grabbing Roger Johnson by the throat,” and Wolves changed their “formation after the break, taking off defender Richard Stearman and bringing on [Kevin] Doyle up front.” “Matt Jarvis levelled less than a minute into the second half,” and “Doyle netted a 71st-minute winner.”

“Wolves escape the relegation zone with the result, and move level on points with QPR.”

via ESPN SoccernetGoal.com; BBC Sport; The Observer; Yahoo! Eurosport; West London Sport; and Kilburn Times

Q.P.R. 1, MK Dons 0 (Zagat-style)

Premier League struggler Queens Park Rangers was rescued from potential embarrassment,” recording “their first win under new boss Mark Hughes, and their first in the FA Cup for 11 years” — 1-0 against MK Dons.

In the 73rd minute, Danny Gabbidon “eased above Shaun Williams to head in his first goal for QPR.” Gabbidon’s goal “means Anton Ferdinand and John Terry could meet on the pitch days before they meet in court” in Terry’s racial abuse trial.

Rangers “were pushed hard by their third-tier opponents, with there little to choose between the two sides for much of the contest.” MK Dons “matched QPR every step of the way for a second match running.” It was “a shoddy performance despite the home team fielding almost their current first-choice line-up.”

via TSN; Mail Online; Sky Sports; The Guardian; MirrorFootball.co.uk; BBC Sport – QPR 1-0 MK Dons; and West London Sport.