Barton red the turning point, as Norwich beat QPR

Premier League: QPR 1 Norwich City 2

Joey Barton was sent off in controversial fashion as QPR crashed to their fifth home defeat of the season against Norwich City on Monday afternoon.

With Rangers 1-0 up thanks to Barton’s 10th-minute striker, the Rangers skipper was sent-off late in the first half for an altercation with Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson.

As both players tangled in the centre of the pitch, Barton appeared to lean in with his head on Johnson, earning a straight red card from referee Neil Swarbrick.

It was the turning point in the match as, barely five minutes later and having been in control, Rangers conceded an equaliser through Anthony Pilkington’s long-range effort.

And Norwich hit the winner eight minutes from the end through second-half substitute Steve Morison, who slammed home Elliot Bennett’s cross from inside the penalty area.

New signing Federico Macheda made his QPR debut late in the game, but the striker on loan from Manchester United had little time to make an impact in a frenzied second half.

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A fifth defeat in six games leaves Neil Warnock’s men two points above the relegation zone, and having to wait until January 15 for their next match, a trip to Newcastle United.

Macheda started on the bench for Rangers, while Warnock made five changes to his starting line-up, with Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Derry and Heidar Helguson coming back into the side after Saturday’s defeat at Arsenal.

After a subdued start, the Rs took the lead with their first attack of note. Alejandro Faurlin picked out Clint Hill down the left, and his cross was hammered home from 12 yards by Barton.

That goal settled the hosts down, and chances were at a premium during the rest of the first half, although Simeon Jackson might have done better when he mis-cued a volley wide from close range.

Rangers were then hit by a double blow as the match approached half-time. First, Barton clashed with Johnson, appearing to head-butt the Norwich man and being given his marching orders.

And barely five minutes later, City drew level. Pilkington, with time and space 20 yards out, picked up a pass from Johnson and lashed a shot low past Kenny into the bottom corner.

Rangers, perhaps spurred on by a sense of injustice, emerged from the tunnel after half-time intent on restoring their lead.

They came mightily close through Taarabt. Daniel Ayala fouled Helguson on the edge of the penalty area, and Taarabt stepped up to curl in a brilliant shot which John Ruddy clawed away.

Taarabt was producing easily his best display of the season, and when he whipped a lethal low cross through the goal-mouth the ball was cleared to Faurlin, whose shot was deflected off target.

At the other end, Norwich looked to make their numerical advantage count and continued to cause Rangers problems.

Indeed, it was the visitors who finished the game the stronger of the two sides, with Paul Lambert bringing on David Fox, Morison and Wes Hoolahan in an effort to steal all three points.

It was a move which paid dividends, as Norwich took the lead with eight minutes to go. Morison had already headed one chance wide before he converted Bennett’s cross from close range.

Rangers huffed and puffed for an equaliser but rarely looked like forcing an equaliser, and ran out of time as Norwich held on to inflict another damaging defeat on Warnock’s struggling side.

QPR: Kenny, Hill, Derry, Gabbidon, Taarabt, Faurlin, Mackie, Barton, Young, Helguson, Ferdinand.

Subs: Cerny, Orr, Campbell, Connolly, Hulse, Wright-Phillips, Macheda.

Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Drury, Johnson, Whitbread, Holt, Jackson, Pilkington, Bennett, Lappin, Ayala

Subs: Rudd, Morison, Surman, Hoolahan, Fox, Wilbraham, Naughton.