QPR 5 Barnsley 2
By Ben Kosky. IT felt as if the clock had turned back 18 months after Stamford Bridge – but Saturday really was the Luigi De Canio era revisited.
By Ben Kosky. IT felt as if the clock had turned back 18 months after Stamford Bridge - but Saturday really was the Luigi De Canio era revisited.
Flowing football, with Akos Buzsaky and Rowan Vine in form at its hub, and an avalanche of goals - coupled, of course, with patches of sloppy defending.
It seemed incredible that, just a week earlier, QPR had failed to score more than once in any league game - and this was the first time they had racked up five at Championship level since the 6-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace in May 1999.
Just as strange was the fact that, despite playing as the nominal centre-forward, Jay Simpson was mostly a peripheral figure, such was the panache displayed by Buzsaky, Vine and Wayne Routledge.
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Not forgetting Mikele Leigertwood, who never seems to score untidy tap-ins, and marched through from right-back to paste a sizzling low drive past David Preece in the seventh minute.
Crucially, Rangers added a second goal just eight minutes later as Ben Watson threaded a pass for Buzsaky and he darted inside to beat the goalkeeper with a finish that deflected off Stephen Foster.
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It could have been three as Routledge scampered through and squeezed the ball past Preece from an angle, but it swerved away from goal, and the Tykes began to belatedly find their feet.
Radek Cerny dived to deny Anderson de Silva and vital challenges by Damion Stewart and Gary Borrowdale then kept Barnsley at bay before a succulent slice of quality from Buzsaky re-established the Rs' grip.
Collecting the ball from Simpson 25 yards out, the Hungarian clipped it neatly into the top corner to make it 3-0 before half-time - and that should really have ended Barnsley's hopes of improving their miserable record at Loftus Road.
But Rangers' defending dipped badly after the break and the visitors pulled a goal back when Iain Hume swept in a free-kick from the left and Foster towered above the rest of the line to head past Cerny.
Four minutes later it was 3-2 as Stewart was adjudged to have tripped Hammill and, although Cerny guessed correctly with Andy Gray's spot-kick, the striker reacted fastest to net the rebound.
Had the Czech goalkeeper not tipped Hammill's effort over soon afterwards, the Tykes' comeback would have been complete - but loan signing Ben Watson, who again impressed in midfield, dashed those hopes.
Buzsaky's superb control on the left gave him the opportunity to deliver a cross to the back post and Vine headed down for Watson, whose shot stung Preece's palms and contained enough power to trickle beyond his grip.
From then on, it was only a question of whether Rangers could add a fifth goal and substitutes Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin both forced good saves from Preece.
But Faurlin's corner met the head of Kaspars Gorkss and the luckless Foster appeared to apply the final polish on what is beginning to resemble a well-oiled machine.
QPR: Cerny; Leigertwood, Stewart, Gorkss, Borrowdalel; Routledge (Faurlin 69), Watson, Rowlands, Buzsaky; Vine (Taarabt 69); Simpson (Pellicori 79).
Barnsley: Preece; Doyle, Foster, Shottonl, Dickinson; De Silval, Butterfield (Kozluk 58), Colace, Hammill; Gray (Campbell-Ryce 76), Hume (Bogdanovic 60).
"I think we have raised the bar and it was important that we did do that. I know Mark Robins is a great manager and it was always going to be a tricky game.
"Barnsley could easily have rolled over at 3-0, but they came out of the gates flying. Some of our play was extremely good but it is a bit nervy at times and we afforded them too many chances. All in all I was very pleased."
TOP OF THE RANGERS
Every Rangers fan knows what Akos Buzsaky is capable of, but it's still a joy to see some indication that the skilful midfielder is returning to his best after such lengthy injury problems.
Buzsaky's second goal brought the Loftus Road crowd to their feet and his role in Ben Watson's strike proved equally vital as Barnsley's comeback bid was finally snuffed out.