AN ERROR from Queens Park Rangers keeper Radek Cerny handed Leicester City all three points and compound the visitors’ domination at Loftus Road.
A shaky start from the R’s was set alight when after Martyn Waghorn’s effort was ruled out for offside, and Adel Taarabt struck from the edge of the area to open the scoring.
Despite their advantage the hosts never really got a foothold on the game with Matty Fryatt nodding home his first of the game before the break.
With the Foxes piling the pressure on a below-par QPR, Radek Cerny lost his cool and passed to Fryatt, who gleefully took his chance with aplomb.
Rangers were simply second best on the day, with little in response to Leicester’s ability to suffocate the game and play with great enterprise on the break.
It wasn’t just Cerny that must carry the can for a disappointing display, but indeed his error will live long in the memory as Fryatt ended his baron run.
Jim Magilton made one enforced change from the side that thrashed Derby County at Pride Park last weekend, with Gavin Mahon forced to withdraw with a training ground injury, and Mikele Leigertwood returning from a virus in his stead.
Radek Cerny sat behind an unchanged back four of Peter Ramage, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart and Gary Borrowdale, with Leigertwood partnering Alejandro Faurlín in the middle.
Adel Taarabt, Ákos Buzsáky and Wayne Routledge sat behind the lone front-man Jay Simpson as the R’s looked to continue a stunning run of form at Loftus Road, where they remained unbeaten.
Leicester City made a couple of changed from the victory over Reading with Paul Gallagher and Ryan McGivern dropping out for Dany N’Guessan and Bruno Berner. So Chris Weale sat behind a back four of Robbie Neilson, Wayne Brown, Jack Hobbs and Berner.
Andy King, Matthew Oakley, Richie Wellens and N’Guessan occupied the midfield from right to left, with Martyn Waghorn retaining his place up front alongside top scorer Matty Fryatt, the latter looking to dispel a recent goalscoring drought.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Leicester City
Under the watchful eye of England boss Fabio Capello and co-owners Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal, Rangers were also looking to impress the Sky cameras having shown the world their vast capabilities on Saturday.
The glitz and glamour of pyrotechnics and flames as Rangers took to the field would be something that Rangers hoped to emulate, with many fireworks set to take place on the field judging by recent performances at Loftus Road.
Rangers starting in bright fashion against their playoff counterparts Leicester with useful link up play down the right flank from Buzsáky and Ramage finding space for Jay Simpson, but the Arsenal loanee forced a comfortable stop Chris Weale.
Leicester were by no means second best however with some useful passing play finding youth product Andy King in space outside the area. His testing effort from distance was well saved and held by R’s stopper Radek Cerny, low into his chest.
Both teams were exploiting gaps in the respective defences with Waghorn foraging in and around Damion Stewart and twice getting the better of him in quick succession to no avail. His strike partner Fryatt was also looking sprightly on the counter-attack as the R’s midfield was scythed open.
Rangers meanwhile were calling upon the talent of Adel Taarabt to break through the division’s second meanest defence behind leaders Newcastle United. An outstretched foot denied a rampant Wayne Routledge an opportunity to open the scoring after a useful pass from Buzsáky.
Attention soon turned to the other end when a shot from Matt Oakley across the face of goal had the R’s defenders scampering with the unmarked loanee Waghorn inches away from touching home at the far post
A similar instance occurred moments later in the heart of the area when Leigertwood and Faurlín combined for the first time this season to find Taarabt in space. The Tottenham loanee took too long to get to the pass and was snuffed out by the former R’s loanee Wayne Brown.
Waghorn was looking lively throughout the first period and his run from a Jack Hobbs flick-on saw him bear down on goal, but his shot was straight at ‘keeper Cerny as he spurned his second opportunity in close succession.
The visitors continued to get a stranglehold on the fixture with Richie Wellens the heartbeat of the Foxes midfield. His sizeable £1m price-tag looked more of a snip as the game went on with his commanding presence providing Leicester with the impetus to drive forward.
Leicester drove on with only Kaspars Gorkss denying Fryatt the opportunity to test Cerny, in what was undoubtedly the R’s toughest test at home to date. The movement on the front two in particular dazzled the Rangers rearguard, who were looking lacklustre for the first time in recent memory.
Rangers looked to the enigma that is Taarabt to work some magic on the counter-attack, but thus far his endeavours were being snuffed out by the Foxes engine room. He drove forward from midfield and with little else on failed to test the keeper from fully 30-yards.
Leicester by comparison were looking far more threatening with Fryatt in particular the danger in attack. While Waghorn’s positioning was far better, Fryatt’s prowess spoke for itself when he cut inside Borrowdale and caused Cerny to beat away instinctively at his near post – the left hand upright.
Rangers had an opportunity on the right hand side of the area and Buzsáky and Faurlín were stood over the ball. Rangers had scored two in two from direct free-kicks so there was great interest in the set-piece.
It was the Argentinean Faurlín that stepped forward left-footed and fired a dipping drive towards the left hand upright, only to be denied his first goal by a spectacular save from Weale. The former Bristol City man tipped the ball over the bar to Faurlín’s visible frustration.
The game became increasingly end to end with the visitors quick pass and move style contributing to their danger on the counter-attack while Rangers for their endeavour were being stifled by the hard working Leicester City, who as a unit were proving organised and formidable.
It would take a moment of magic to break the deadlock, and that’s what the Loftus Road crowd were treated to when Adel Taarabt saw his deflected pass fall back to his feet, and he duly slammed the ball home into the bottom left-hand corner.
A goal that came from virtually nothing and the visitors could feel aggrieved at the timing, during a considerable spell of pressure and dominance for the Foxes. Respite for Rangers who had been second best for large spells and a promising sign for the remainder of the period.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Leicester City
The Foxes had a goal disallowed previously when Waghorn rolled home after a cross from N’Guessan, which further compounded the fact they were behind in the encounter. It was disallowed for offside after N’Guessan had Peter Ramage beaten all ends up.
It simply didn’t appear to be Waghorn’s day on only his second start of the season on loan from Sunderland. Rangers didn’t head N’Guessan’s earlier warning however with Ramage left exposed once more and easy to exploit.
The former Manchester United and Lincoln City man fairly coasted past the R’s full back once more to fire a powerful cross into the heart of the area. Matty Fryatt showed excellent composure to glance home from close range, left totally unmarked in the heart of the six-yard box.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Leicester City
As the half was coming to a conclusion it was Leicester City that had all the running. The R’s had little in the way of a Plan B when it came to dealing with the tough tackling and pressure play that the visitors provided.
There was little reprieve with Wellens and Oakley snuffing out the majority of what Rangers had to offer the game and feeding the now hungry Fryatt and the excellent movement of his strike partner Waghorn.
The whistle was welcomed for Rangers who certainly weren’t themselves in the opening 45 minutes. This pays great testament to the work of the visitors to make a flowing attack crumble beneath them before carving out their own threat.
A positive to take was that QPR were a goal worse off at Pride Park at the weekend going into the break and went on to storm the second period. Could there be a repeat of this feat at Loftus Road? The hosts certainly hoped so.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Leicester City
Leicester started the second half the way they finished the first, they were far brighter in snuffing out Rangers and stamping their own authority on the game. In truth QPR were struggling to get the ball in the opposing half as Leicester held on to the ball effectively.
The visitors probed for an opening, a mistake, anything to assert their visible dominance, as they had the bit between their teeth and the visiting supporters were trying to suck the ball into the back of the net under wave after wave of pressure.
Defender Robbie Neilson must have had a nose-bleed when he was in the Rangers half, but a defensive slipped afforded him the opportunity to hand the Foxes a deserved lead, he spurned the chance however and with every missed chance Rangers remained in the game.
Ten minutes into the half and Damion Stewart was withdrawn for what presumably was an injury despite his uncharacteristically ineffectual display alongside Kaspars Gorkss at the back. Fitz Hall was therefore allowed to make his return to action after suffering a groin injury.
QPR managed to create a rare chance when Jay Simpson managed to find his man after more strength in holding up the ball. He picked out Hungarian Ákos Buzsáky, but his curling right-footed effort drifted past the right hand upright.
The game was still hanging in the balance despite Leicester’s continual threat, as Buzsáky’s opportunity proved it could be a moment of magic or a costly error to break the stalemate and hand one side the game.
It was a case that QPR were going to have to win the game rather than Leicester lose it, with their assured defending proving a tough line to penetrate. The two banks of four defended and attacked as a unit proving a great difficulty for the hosts.
It seemed that it would be a costly error that would separate the sides as only Radek Cerny can answer the question as to what was occurring just after the hour mark as he gifted Leicester the opportunity to take the lead.
The Czech stopper’s pass fell miles short of Peter Ramage and was intercepted by Matty Fryatt. The former Walsall man had been short of form prior to the game but the gift was something he wouldn’t waste, coasting into the area and rolling with great composure into the bottom right hand corner.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Leicester City
That seemed to be the final nail in the QPR coffin who couldn’t seem to pass water in the second half, Alejandro Faurlín in particular looked shot at the heart of midfield, when countless passes went astray and left him a forlorn Faurlín.
Ákos Buzsáky had a good chance to haul Rangers level immediately but his drive from the edge of the area drifted wide of the left-hand upright in yet another missed opportunity for QPR. The positive thing from Leicester’s perspective that it was another effort from distance that went amiss.
Magilton had to gamble, and stayed true to his attacking temperament by throwing on Rowan Vine at the expense of full-back Peter Ramage. Ramage in truth was being bullied by the sizeable N’Guessan who would now have to content with Leigertwood at right back and Buzsáky moving square.
A piece of creative spark finally saw Rangers with an opportunity as Buzsáky’s pass was delightfully dummied by Simpson into the path of Routledge. The former Aston Villa wide-man was thwarted at close range by the outstretched Weale who demanded medical attention for his ailments.
It was truly the first time in the fixture Rangers had come to the fore as a team and created a noteworthy chance beyond the opening goal. From Leicester’s point of view it was a rare slip that would have to be eradicated to claim the win.
Rangers had Fitz Hall to thank when Wayne Brown threatened to head a deserved third for Leicester from a corner on the left side. The former R’s loanee could do no more than put his header on target, but substitute Hall brushed it away from the line.
Then came the moment that Rangers fans had been waiting for, a clear-cut chance. More cool work from Routledge down the right saw him once again break free of his marker down the right hand by-line.
He square for Ákos Buzsáky, with Weale displaced and defenders charging towards him Buzsáky somehow conspired to slice the ball high, wide and handsome to disappoint the Loftus Road crowd that had remained fairly vocal throughout.
Despite continual breaks in play and time-wasting tactics from Pearson’s side there was a mere five minutes added on at the end of the game, perhaps the minimum acceptable amount that anonymous official Mr Moss could have given.
Rangers continued to press late on with Patrick Agyemang thrown on at the expense of another anonymous figure in Taarabt, on his second half performance. It wasn’t enough however as Leicester go joint top with a deserved win.
Full Time: Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Leicester City
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage (Rowan Vine 67), Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart (Fitz Hall 55), Gary Borrowdale, Alejandro Faurlín, Mikele Leigertwood, Adel Taarabt (Patrick Agyemang 86), Ákos Buzsáky, Wayne Routledge, Jay Simpson.
Chris Weale, Robbie Neilson, Jack Hobbs, Bruno Berner, Andy King, Matthew Oakley, Richie Wellens, Dany N’Guessan, Martyn Waghorn (Ryan McGivern 89), Matty Fryatt (Paul Gallagher 75).
Radek Cerny – 5/10
“Docked him a mark because of the howler but let’s not forget he did also make a couple of decent saves.” – Superhoop50.
“Played well except for the clanger, but what a clanger!” – griffqpr
“His mistake was a classic howler, he paid for it by conceding a goal. He wasn’t the worst player on the pitch.” – QPR4Me
Peter Ramage – 5.8/10
“Well and truly found out. Never coped with N’Guessan or whatever his name is and I reckon he’ll lose his place on Tuesday.” – Superhoop50
“Became rattled too easily” – griffqpr
“Ramage, back to “Damage” I’m afraid to say” – QPR4Me
Kaspars Gorkss – 7.2/10
“Thought he was pretty steady to be honest.” – Superhoop50
“Steady as ever.” – griffqpr
Damion Stewart – 4.4/10
“Another that didn’t cope very well and no real surprise that he came off. Possibly one too many games for him?” – Superhoop50.
“Okay in the air, but with the ball at his feet???” – griffqpr
“Stewart just cannot keep up with the pace of Jim’s football. He was the weak link of our back 4 and IMHO has been all season.” – LeeCookFan
“Stewart was the weak link again tonite – from minute one to be honest. I didn’t stop moaning about him – he was the reason they scored their first goal” – Sandydl
“Stewart, who the hell let him start? Whoever it was needs shooting! Stewart was clearly not fit and was off the pace for the whole (short) time that he was on the pitch.” – QPR4Me
“Stewart has a poor game – his worst of the season. So what – how often have we said how good he has been this season with Gorkss.” – jezza99
Gary Borrowdale – 6.4/10
“Nothing spectacular but certainly tried hard” – Superhoop50
“Became rattled too easily when Leicester closed in” – griffqpr
Alejandro Damián Faurlín – 5.4/10
“Oh dear, a total nightmare on the passing front which was a real shame after recent performances. On the plus side, he does always chase back to reasonable effect and his free kick was a pearler. He’ll come back for sure.” – Superhoop50
“I could not believe how many misplaced passes he made” – griffqpr
“Worst player on the pitch” – QPR4Me
Mikele Leigertwood – 7.3/10
“Just about scraped MOM for me. Covered a lot of ground and I can’t really remember him doing much wrong. He’ll be at full back for sure on Tuesday.” – Superhoop50
“Man of the match.” – griffqpr
“”Legs” has often attracted comments from me about his apparent colour blindness when trying to pass the ball to someone wearing the same shirt as him, but tonight, he, although definitely ordinary, was almost Beckham-like with his passing when compared to Faurlin.” – QPR4Me
Adel Taarabt – 6.2/10
“Went missing in the second half. only got 6 cos he scored!
“If the sponsors wanted a club man of the match, it should be re-named, player who was least rubbish on the night. Taarabt, even though he wasn’t fully fit” – QPR4Me
“Hardly noticed him in the second half and seemed to lose interest to me. Another quality goal though but I wish he’d play for 90 minutes.” – Superhoop50
“Kept trying but was throttled by Leicester. Good goal, but apart from that?” – griffqpr
Ákos Buzsáky – 6.2/10
“Saw an awful lot of the ball in the first half and I thought he made pretty good use of it too. Was impressed with his covering at the back. Tailed off in the second half.” – Superhoop50
“Never stopped trying, always looked dangerous.” – griffqpr
Wayne Routledge – 5.9/10
“Good in patches and anonymous at other times. Leicester did a good job on him.” – Superhoop50
“Wasn’t given too many chances by Leicester” – griffqpr
“Routledge ran around……
“Just felt that for all of Routledge’s running, a headless chicken would have got the same result.” – QPR4Me
Jay Simpson – 5.9/10
“Big boys put him in his place too easily
“Too small and lightweight up against a determined defence, even if he had a hand in AT’s goal.” – QPR4Me
“Thought he tried really hard throughout even if he didn’t get enough of the ball.” – Superhoop50
“Wasn’t given too many chances by Leicester” – griffqpr