QUEENS Park Rangers wilted in the London sunshine as neighbours Fulham ran riot at Craven Cottage.
Andrew Johnson netted a hatrick for the hosts as the visiting side had no answer for Fulham’s movement in the front-line.
A Danny Murphy penalty was added to by Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora as QPR were punished for some ponderous defending.
In the stands matters were very different as a vocal visiting support continued to urge their side on despite the vastly growing deficit – but it mattered for little as Rangers capitulate to a heavy defeat.
Neil Warnock opted to make one change from the side that drew with Aston Villa – Bradley Orr the surprise inclusion at the expense of the suspended Armand Traoré.
Paddy Kenny started behind a back four of Orr, Fitz Hall, Anton Ferdinand and Luke Young with Alejandro Faurlín and Shaun Derry the men in the middle of the park.
Joey Barton, Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Phillips started behind lone forward Jay Bothroyd. Special mentions should go to Jamie Mackie who made the bench for the visiting side.
Fulham started with Mark Schwarzer behind a back four of Zdeněk Grygera, Chris Baird, Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise.
Moussa Dembele, Steve Sidwell, Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey started behind Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson in attack.
KICK OFF: FULHAM v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Craven Cottage was bathed in sunshine as the two sides took to the field, with the visiting support in fine voice from the off, searching for their first win over their neighbours since 1983.
Rangers looked positive from the off and useful interplay saw Joey Barton laid in Shaun Wright-Phillips, only for the latter to test Fulham stopper Schwarzer high to his left, but matters immediately switched to the other end.
It was a bitter blow for the visitors who looked to be getting into their stride as Moussa Dembele stepped inside with great comfort to see his effort spilled by Paddy Kenny. Andrew Johnson showed excellent poachers’ instinct to stroke home from close range.
GOAL: FULHAM 1-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
It really knocked the stuffing out of the visitors who appeared shell-shocked as the hosts went for the throat. The excellent pace and movement down the left flank scythed the R’s defence open and Clint Dempsey worked his way down the left.
His deflected cross drifted over Kenny and Fitz Hall was on hand to acrobatically clear from the line. Make no mistake about it, Fulham were looking the better side and Rangers were struggling to gain a foot-hold.
Shaun Derry’s speculative drive was all that Rangers had to offer in the early stages, as the probing and incisive play from the Cottagers’ forward line stretched a makeshift rearguard to breaking point.
It wasn’t long before the hosts pressed QPR a stage too far once more and it came with an element of fortune. A defensive horror show between Fitz Hall and Paddy Kenny resulted in Johnson nipping in behind the sluggish defence and being brought down by Kenny.
A reputation in being able to earn his side spot-kicks, Johnson needed no second invitation to tumble and Danny Murphy slammed the penalty beyond the forlorn stopper for the hosts’ second of the game.
GOAL: FULHAM 2-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Speculative drives from Johnson and Sidwell drifted inches wide of Kenny’s left hand upright with the visiting side struggling to get a concerted period of pressure and were getting picked apart at will on the counter-attack.
Shell-shocked and struggling, QPR were not able to keep a rampant Fulham side at bay and a reconstructed back four was being stretched by the probing runs and neat interchange that an experienced Premier League side were providing.
Fulham effectively passed a third beyond QPR as the visiting side had little answer to the precision passing and movement. Riise, Zamora and Dempsey all combined before the latter had his shot parried by Kenny.
Andrew Johnson didn’t need a second invitation as he rolled into an empty net from point blank range. It would proving a very disappointing half for Rangers who had little in riposte to the early onslaught by the home side.
GOAL: FULHAM 3-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
While many would point to a freak fixture where everything was going in, but the goals were proving justified as Rangers looked to Adel Taarabt to carve out some form of attacking impetus – sadly to little effect for the visiting faithful.
As the clock ticked on to half time the supporters were understandably disappointed by the surprising demise of line-up that has appeared particularly committed in recent weeks – nevertheless they hoped for better in the second period.
HALF TIME: FULHAM 3-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Warnock made two changes at the break, predominantly for tactical reasons, as Shaun Derry and Adel Taarabt made way for Tommy Smith and DJ Campbell. The side henceforth shifted to 4-4-2 – a rarity under the boss’ tenure.
It provided a bit more cut and thrust to the QPR line-up who sought to catch Fulham cold in the early stages. Wright-Phillips saw an effort go wide before Faurlín brought a good save from an underworked Schwarzer.
In truth the initial enthusiasm waned somewhat and Zamora looked destined to add a fourth when he was allowed to cut inside onto his favoured left foot before seeing his curling effort plucked around the post by Kenny.
It wasn’t long before the fourth came however and it will be a goal bound to infuriate Neil Warnock in terms of defensive organisation. Danny Murphy was able to take a quick free-kick, placing the ball into the path of Andrew Johnson.
The former Crystal Palace man will not have had an easier opportunity as he ghosted through a static defensive line-up to roll home his hat-rick with consummate ease. A job well done for Johnson, but another nail in the coffin for QPR.
GOAL: FULHAM 4-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
That goal came on the hour mark and it was one way traffic once more when both Dempsey and Sidwell went close with efforts and the visiting side threatened to implode in the face of a far more dynamic line-up.
The effort and tenacity of Wright-Phillips on the counter attack was all that Rangers had to offer in truth with Jay Bothroyd twice unable to bring down the ball effectively in the heart of the hosts’ penalty area.
Five minutes later the score was made more convincing when more neat interchange saw Johnson back-heeled for Clint Dempsey and the American international latched onto the touch to lash home a fifth.
GOAL: FULHAM 5-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
It should be noted that despite the growing gulf in score-line the loudest noise in the ground was emanating from the away end. Staying to a man, the QPR supporters grew in voice and gave their side great encouragement.
The noise grew louder still when Bothroyd was replaced by the returning Jamie Mackie. The striker – out since January with a double leg break – had made a surprising long-awaited return to the side.
DJ Campbell struck an effort inches wide of the left hand upright as Rangers sensed a consolation goal that their supporters had richly deserved after a difficult afternoon at Craven Cottage.
There was a goal, but sadly it was Fulham’s sixth of the afternoon. More scandalous defending saw Dempsey roll to Bobby Zamora and he had all the time in the world to roll home with his weaker foot – more disappointing and sluggish defensive work.
GOAL: FULHAM 6-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Rangers should have had a penalty when Mackie was impeded after an excellent piece of control in the area. His protests fell on deaf ears to a well-placed linesman, who ensured that Rangers’ misery was compounded by requesting that Wright-Phillips be cautioned.
A late rally for QPR was evidently a little late in the day but promised a little more for future fixtures. Nevertheless it was devastating for a supporter-base that continued to back their boys – much to the seeming embarrassment of Warnock and his charges.
A third-rate performance in front of a first class support – Rangers have lessons to learn over the international break prior to a crucial home clash with Blackburn Rovers, and on from there against Chelsea.
FULL TIME: FULHAM 6-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Mark Schwarzer, John Arne Riise, Steve Sidwell, Brede Hangeland, Chris Baird, Andrew Johnson (Bryan Ruiz 75), Danny Murphy (Dickson Etuhu 83), Clint Dempsey, Bobby Zamora, Zdeněk Grygera, Moussa Dembele (Orlando Sa 87)
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Paddy Kenny, Bradley Orr, Shaun Derry (Tommy Smith 46), Fitz Hall, Adel Taarabt (DJ Campbell 46), Jay Bothroyd (Jamie Mackie 72), Alejandro Faurlín, Joey Barton, Luke Young, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand.