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Match Report: QPR 2 Sunderland 3 (QPR fan's perspective)

Saturday 24th December 2011
It is the season of goodwill and the Queens Park Rangers defence joined in with the seasonal spirit and gifted Sunderland 3 points on Wednesday night in a rollercoaster encounter at Loftus Road.

With both teams looking precariously over their shoulders, this was a big game at the bottom of the table. Neil Warnock surprised everyone with his team selection, replacing striker Jay Bothroyd with defensive midfielder Shaun Derry. It was a negative selection from Warnock, especially with attackers DJ Campbell and Adel Taarabt kicking their heels on the bench.

QPR started quite brightly, with Shaun Wright-Phillips looking lively on the right hand-side. It's a position where he has hardly featured this season, with Warnock preferring to use him on the left. However, after a bright 15 minutes, Wright-Phillips was moved to the left where he barely touched the ball for the next 30 minutes and was substituted at half time.

Sunderland soon took a grip on the game and were unlucky not to take the lead when Nicklas Bendtner's close range header came back off the post following a dangerous free kick from Sebastian Larsson. However, Bendtner didn't have to wait long for the opening goal. Kieran Richardson whipped in a corner from the right and Bendtner lost his marker with ease and the ball flew into the back of the net. Replays showed that the ball had gone in via Bendtner's shoulder, not his head.

Sunderland continued to press, with Stephane Sessegnon looking particularly impressive. QPR were relieved to hear the half time whistle and responded by replacing Shaun Wright-Phillips with Adel Taarabt.

QPR created their best chance just after the break when Armand Traore's excellent cross was met by Heidar Helguson. However, his header was cleared off the line by Titus Bramble. QPR were made to pay for the miss almost immediately. Danny Gabbidon's poor header was pounced on by Sessegnon, who sprinted through the R's defence unopposed, sold Paddy Kenny a super dummy and ran the ball into an empty net. It was no more than he deserved for a very good performance on the night.

At this point a QPR comeback looked as likely as Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra having Christmas dinner together. However, within 14 minutes the score was level. First, Helguson converted a cross from Alejandro Faurlin and then Jamie Mackie scored his first ever Premier League goal, finishing off a well worked move with a diving header.

Now, usually at this point, when a team has fought back from 2-0 down, there is usually only one winner. However, under Martin O'Neill, Sunderland seemed to be made of stronger stuff and finished the game on the front foot. Criag Gardner almost gave them the lead when his curling effort seemed destined for the top corner. However, Paddy Kenny made an outstanding save to keep the scores level. Kenny then made another excellent save from a swerving Phil Bardsley shot and QPR were hanging on. Sunderland kept pushing and got their reward in the final minute when Wes Brown headed home his first goal for the club from another Richardson corner.

Warnock threw on Jay Bothroyd for the final minutes but it was to no avail and Sunderland took all 3 points back up the A1 with them.

Despite what Warnock has said, Sunderland deserved the victory. They were well-organised, had the games outstanding player in Stephane Sessegnon and showed ambition at 2-2 to go and win the game.

It leaves QPR with only 1 home win so far this season and only 2 points above the relegation zone. Tough away matches at Swansea and Arsenal will complete this calendar year. Confidence is very low and Anton Ferdinand is badly missed at the back. January really can't come soon enough.
Jawad Laouira

Total articles: 15

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