Green own goal sees QPR drop to foot of league
Premier League: QPR 1 West Bromwich Albion 2
A controversial Robert Green own goal gave West Bromwich Albion all three points leaving QPR rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.
The loss was manager Harry Redknapp’s first in over ten Boxing Day fixtures dating back to 1998 when he lost 1-0 to Arsenal while West Ham boss.
Chris Brunt’s left-footed strike 15 minutes before half time put the Baggies one up before a decisive own goal from the home goalkeeper in the second half gave Steve Clarke’s side a second win in two games after beating Norwich before Christmas.
Djibril Cisse finished a beautiful through ball from Stephane M’bia with just over 20 minutes left on the clock to give the R’s a sniff but it was not to be as they sunk to their second successive defeat under Redknapp.
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In just the second minute M’bia curled a right-footed shot just past Ben Foster’s post to nearly cap off a feisty start from QPR, who desperately needed a win to stay in touch with 18th placed Southampton.
Weeks of speculation about whether Adel Taarabt would go to the African Nations Cup was ended before the kick-off after he was omitted from the Morocco squad, giving Hoops fans a much-needed boost.
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But that news was coupled with the absence of centre-half Ryan Nelson from the starting line-up with flu.
Taarabt was pivotal in the centre of the park, marauding across the pitch at will in the opening exchanges to link midfield and attack.
As the first-period reached the halfway point the rain, which had been teeming down all afternoon, started to affect both teams.
Neither side could play a final ball with any real conviction with West Brom’s defensive pairing Jonas Olsson and Goran Popov, in particular, struggling to clear their lines when faced with an R’s attack due to the greasy conditions.
But it was Baggies skipper Brunt who broke the deadlock close to the 30-minute mark with pinpoint shot along the ground into the bottom of Green’s net.
It was a quality finish to give the Midlanders the lead as they looked for a win to build a run of form after winning just one in six before today’s game.
Redknapp, however, will rue the fact his defence failed to close down the threat early enough, allowing Brunt to fire off his shot from 30 yards.
West Brom nearly doubled their lead moments before the interval when James Morrison maintained his composure to curl a bouncing ball inches away from Green’s goal.
Once again Anton Ferdinand failed to inspire confidence among Rangers’ supporters in the heart of defence after he was dispossessed on the edge of the box.
QPR started the second half brightly with two successive corners three minutes into the half. The second, taken by Taarabt, looped over onto the head of M’bia who could not direct the ball goalwards in the slippery conditions despite being left unmarked in the box.
It was effort that was to prove all the more costly when West Brom moved 2-0 up in the 49th minute in controversial circumstances.
A Brunt corner was palmed into his own net by Green on the goal-line after Marc-Antoine Fortune pressured the ex-West Ham keeper into a mistake by backing into him.
Referee Chris Foy adjudged the tactical placement of the French midfielder to be within the laws of the game much to the frustration of Green.
Two classy saves by former England number one from Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku went some way to redeeming the stopper in the immediate aftermath.
And it was not long after when QPR got themselves back in a match – which had become far more enticing after half-time.
A slide-rule pass on 68 minutes by the impressive M’bia allowed Cisse, the Hoops’ top-scorer this term, through on goal.
The Frenchman calmly guided the ball past Foster to reduce the deficit.
With 20 minutes to go each threat on the Baggies’ goal came from the same source – Taarabt – thus making his availability for QPR during the African Nations Cup even more important.
Yet, however, hard QPR they tried – and did they try – they could not force the ball home from multiple corners in the dying seconds to leave their fans with the sinking feeling that comes with slipping back to the foot of the Premier League.
QPR: Green, Fabio (Hoilett 62), Traore, Ferdinand, Hill, Wright-Phillips, Faurlin (Diakite 62), M’bia, Taarabt, Mackie, Cisse.
Unused Substitutes: Cesar, Derry, Granero, Dyer, Ehmer.
WBA: Foster, Jones, Olsson, Popov (Ridgewell 35), McAuley, Morrison (Tamas 86), Mulumbu, Gera, Brunt, Lukaku (Long 75), Fortune.
Unused Substitutes: Myhill, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Odemwingie.
Referee: Chris Foy