Sheffield United 3 QPR 0
PUBLISHED: 12:38 18 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:20 24 August 2010
By Ben Kosky QPR came down to earth with a bump on Saturday as the Blades brutally exposed their shortcomings at both ends of the pitch. Rangers still look incapable of keeping a clean sheet and the treble they conceded to Billy Sharp – who struggled to h
By Ben Kosky
QPR came down to earth with a bump on Saturday as the Blades brutally exposed their shortcomings at both ends of the pitch.
Rangers still look incapable of keeping a clean sheet and the treble they conceded to Billy Sharp - who struggled to hit the proverbial bovine backside last season - could easily have been greater.
And the Rs' lack of firepower was again highlighted as they failed to give Paddy Kenny cause to break sweat until the final quarter of the game - by which time their cause was lost.
"Our inability to defend set-pieces has cost us dearly - and we're one of the biggest teams on the planet, so it's bizarre. That's something we'll have to work on," admitted manager Iain Dowie.
"We didn't defend with any resolution. We've got to have that intensity to win that first header, win that first delivery into the box.
"After the first 12 minutes it was always going to be a mountain to climb. In the second half their keeper made some saves but, at 2-0 down and chasing the game, we attack, they attack."
Rangers' hopes of recording their first shut-out this season evaporated after just two minutes as Matt Kilgallon flicked on a throw and the unmarked Sharp headed beyond Radek Cerny.
Crosses into the box continued to make the Rs uneasy and Greg Halford's volley was deflected wide before the Yorkshiremen doubled their lead in the 13th minute.
Blades old boy Mikele Leigertwood conceded possession inside the opposition half and Gary Speed angled a clever ball through to Sharp, who held off Kaspars Gorkss and steered his second past the helpless keeper.
United could have added a third when Sun Jihai got away from Damien Delaney and crossed for Darius Henderson, but the striker's header lacked the purchase to beat Cerny.
Delaney's challenge denied Henderson another scoring opportunity and Sharp was inches away from a hat-trick as he latched on to Stephen Quinn's knockdown, but planted the finish wide of the far post.
Cerny produced a fine diving save to deny Michael Tonge just before the break, but the goalkeeper was at fault five minutes after the restart when he missed a corner and Sharp bundled home to complete his treble.
Cerny's saves from Speed and Sharp soon afterwards rescued Rangers from further embarrassment, but the damage had already been done.
It was clear their luck was out when Emmanuel Ledesma played a one-two with Samuel Di Carmine, but the Argentinian's shot rebounded off the post and Ugo Ehiogu did enough to prevent Dexter Blackstock reaching the loose ball.
Although Di Carmine added some thoughtful link play to the Rangers attack, it would be stretching the truth to say that Kenny had much to do, other than push away two well-struck Daniel Parejo free-kicks.
Even after Sharp went off, the home side could have rubbed salt into the wounds and, although replacement Danny Webber fired wide, this one-sided encounter should give Dowie plenty to ponder.
QPR: Cerny; Connolly, Hall, Gorkss, DELANEY*; Ledesma, Leigertwood, Parejo, Cook (Alberti 81); Blackstock, Balanta (Di Carmine 45). Subs not used: Camp, Stewart, Mahon.