Gutsy QPR boost survival bid with stalemate against Spurs
Premier League: QPR 0 Tottenham 0
Harry Redknapp’s bid to save QPR is gathering pace after his struggling side held his former club Tottenham to a draw at Loftus Road.
Rangers had beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their previous Premier League outing, and they followed that up with a valuable point against high-flying Spurs today.
It was the first time Andre Villas-Boas’ Lilywhites had failed to score in an away game in the league this season, and the hard-fought stalemate took the Rs off the bottom of the league ahead of the weekend’s other fixtures.
Harry Redknapp made four changes to the side that had drawn with West Brom in the FA Cup as Nedum Onuoha, Fabio Da Silva, Shaun Derry and Shaun Wright-Phillips returned to the line-up.
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Ryan Nelsen started against his former club despite agreeing to take charge of MLS outfit Toronto during the week, and Adel Taarabt also lined up against his former employers, having hit the winner in Rangers’ 1-0 victory in this fixture last season.
Meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas made seven changes to his Spurs line-up as Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Sandro, Mousa Dembele, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe returned.
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Tottenham took control early on and nearly took a sixth-minute lead, only to be denied by a superb double save from Julio Cesar.
The Brazilian tipped Defoe’s 20-yard effort onto the woodwork and then recovered quickly to save from Emmanuel Adebayor, who was first to the rebound and should have scored from eight yards.
Having survived that scare, QPR nearly took the lead themselves as Taarabt dissected the Lilywhites’ defence with a delicate through ball to Shaun Wright-Phillips.
The diminutive Rangers winger got goal-side of Walker and seemed set to score for the second league game in a row, but his goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked by Michael Dawson.
After a lively start at both ends, the game settled down and there was little to concern either goalkeeper.
QPR were winning the tactical battle and their 4-5-1 formation was allowing them to outnumber Spurs, who were playing in a 4-4-2 system, in midfield.
Stephane Mbia, Jamie Mackie, Shaun Derry and Park Ji-Sung were working tirelessly to make that advantage count, and they were succeeding in frustrating the Lilywhites and cutting the supply line to the visitors’ forwards.
Tottenham and were being restricted to long balls and ambitious shots from distance – and they were then forced into a change as Sandro limped off after 25 minutes to be replaced by Scott Parker.
That did little to improve Spurs’ creativity or the general quality of the game, and the sides went into the interval on level terms.
Bale tested Cesar with a free-kick at the start of the interval, while Parker fired over the bar from 30 yards, and Lennon then surged through the centre and went down in the box after a push from Park.
Referee Lee Probert adjudged that the contact had been outside the box and awarded a free-kick, which Walker shipped narrowly wide of Cesar’s goal with the keeper rooted – and the Brazilian was then forced to save from Defoe with his legs.
Tottenham had started brightly in the second half, but QPR composed themselves and slowed their visitors’ progress.
Adebayor got a sight of goal in the 67th minute but declined to pull the trigger with his left foot, and that was his final contribution as Villas-Boas introduced Clint Dempsey.
However, it was QPR who best openings from that moment on. Fabio escaped down the left flank, but there was no-one on hand to meet his low ball across goal, and Lloris then raced from his line to beat the onrushing Wright-Phillips to Taarabt;s through ball.
Villas-Boas made his final change, swapping Lennon for Gylfi Sigurdsson, but Rangers came forward again and Wright-Phillips went down in the box appealing for a penalty, which wasn’t given – and that was the final chance as the game ended goalless.
QPR: Cesar, Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Da Silva, Mackie, Mbia, Derry, Park, Wright-Phillips, Taarabt
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Naughton, Lennon (Sigurdsson 79), Sandro (Parker 25), Dembele, Bale, Defoe, Adebayor (Dempsey 68)