Wayne Rooney on target as QPR errors punished by Manchester United

Premier League: QPR 0 Manchester United 2

QPR were punished for an error-strewn performance as champions Manchester United cruised to victory at Loftus Road on Sunday.

Rangers gifted Wayne Rooney a first-minute goal and were largely out-classed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side built on that lead through Michael Carrick’s second-half strike.

Substitute DJ Campbell came closest to a goal for the hosts, but he somehow spooned Adel Taarabt’s cross onto the roof of the net from a couple of yards out.

The defeat leaves QPR still with just one home win this season – against Chelsea in October – and in truth this was one of their poorest displays of the season in front of their own fans.

Radek Cerny continued to deputise in goal for the injured Paddy Kenny, while Anton Ferdinand failed to recover from his hamstring strain in time and was replaced by Matt Connolly.

Connolly was making his first QPR appearance since August, and his early rustiness was brutally exposed as United took the lead after just 55 seconds. The centre-back’s spooned clearance allowed United to pick up possession, and Valencia crossed for Rooney to glance a header past Cerny.

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Moments later Rooney and Nani combined to set Danny Welbeck in on goal, but the United forward’s scuffed effort was stopped at close range by Cerny as United threatened to run riot.

Reduced virtually to spectators in the early encounters, QPR had to wait 16 minutes for their first chance – and it was a good one. Barton freed Jamie Mackie to speed past Patrice Evra and set up Jay Bothroyd, who should have done better than spoon his shot over the crossbar.

It was a rare chance in a half dominated by the visitors. United continued to pour forward, and could have put the game to bed with a trio of chances in as many minutes. Welbeck flicked on Nani’s corner, but Johnny Evans headed against the top of the bar from six yards out.

Rooney was dictating the game from the middle, and it was he who released Phil Jones to race through on Cerny, but the Rangers keeper stood up well to deflect the shot out for a corner.

Another quick break saw Nani burst into the area and set up Rooney, whose low effort was blocked in front of goal by Connolly, and Valencia’s follow-up was superbly kept out by Cerny.

For the hosts, Bothroyd volleyed a couple of yards wide of the post, and Helguson forced David De Gea to save with his feet, but that was the sum total of their efforts as they went in trailing at the break.

The second half continued with the champions on the front foot, and Danny Gabbidon was fortunate to escape a second booking when he appeared to haul down Welbeck.

Rangers fell 2-0 behind 10 minutes into the second half thanks to a dreadful ball from Barton, whose mis-placed pass went straight to Michael Carrick. The United man simply motored through midfield and planted a shot past the diving Cerny, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

If Cerny should have done better, he made amends shortly afterwards, tipping over Welbeck’s shot from the edge of the area.

Warnock’s response to United’s relentless dominance was to send on DJ Campbell for Heidar Helguson and Adel Taarabt for Wright-Phillips, with the Morrocan playing his first minutes for QPR since the defeat at Tottenham back in October.

It made little difference, as Manchester United continued to pour forward. Jones curled an effort against the base of the post, while Nani forced Cerny into yet another save.

Yet QPR might have reduced the deficit had Campbell not somehow failed to convert Taarabt’s cross from barely six yards out.

That was QPR’s clearest opportunity of a day to forget, and the game fizzled out with Manchester United in complete control, the United supporters singing ‘cheerio’ to the home fans as their side shut the game out with ease.

Rangers’ match with Sunderland on Wednesday evening now looks like a must-win contest, if Warnock’s side are to avoid sliding towards the relegation trap-door.

QPR: Cerny, Connolly, Mackie, Helguson, Faurlin, Traore, Barton, Bothroyd, Young, Gabbidon, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Kenny, Orr, Hill, Derry, Taarabt, Campbell, Smith.

Manchester United: De Gea, Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Rooney, Smalling, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck, Valencia. Subs: Lindegaard, Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Young, Fryers.