Cardiff 0-2 QPR: Steven Caulker scores on return to Wales as Rs go top of the table
PUBLISHED: 16:56 14 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:56 14 August 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Steven Caulker scored on his return to south Wales as QPR went top of the Championship with a hard-fought victory over Cardiff City on Sunday afternoon.
The 24-year-old defender, who played for Cardiff in the 2013-14 season, leapt home highest from Jake Bidwell’s free-kick to give the Rs the lead, before Tjaronn Chery scored his second consecutive penalty in as many league games to put the game out of the Bluebirds reach.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made one change from last weekend’s opening day win over Leeds United, with youngster Olamide Shodipo dropping to the bench as Jordan Cousins made his first league start for the club.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the first half, with Steven Caulker and Grant Hall first to everything in the air, while Rangers rarely threatened up the other end.
The Rs were dealt a blow 25 minutes in as Ben Gladwin was forced off injured after picking up a heavy knock to his ankle, with Yeni Ngbakoto - fresh from scoring on his QPR debut in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night - replacing the former Swindon man for his first league bow, who added some much needed energy to the Rs midfield when he came on.
The Rs started the second half brighter and with a much higher tempo to the game as opposed to the opening period, and were nearly rewarded for that four minutes after the break.
A great period of play saw Cousins cut in from the right, as he flashed the ball across the six-yard box with Ngbakoto inches away from making contact and giving the Rs the lead.
It was Cousins who was involved again - who was the Rs stand-out player on the day - as the Rs thought they had won a penalty, but the offside flag was raised as the 22-year-old was tumbled inside the box.
In a game of few chances, the Rs did take one of the only ones that came their way though, when former Bluebird Caulker silenced the home crowd as he headed home emphatically from Bidwell’s excellent free-kick from the right with 14 minutes remaining.
And the Rs put the game to bed with five minutes remaining as Chery fired an unstoppable strike home from the penalty spot, after Sebastian Polter was clearly taken down by Bruno Ecuele Manga in the box.