QUEENS Park Rangers were subjected to a first half mauling as a Liverpool side inspired by Luis Suarez coasted beyond a beleaguered home side.
Rangers were on the back foot from first moment to last in an utterly forgettable affair, as Suarez persistently scythed open the home defence with expert movement and precision finishing.
His first was simplicity personified, coasting beyond a static Clint Hill before rolling effortlessly beyond the recalled Julio Cesar. He doubled his tally by ghosting beyond a cataclysmic defence to profit from a rebound off ex-QPR youngster Raheem Sterling.
A team shell-shocked and imploding conceded a third when Steven Gerrard’s pin-point cross unpicked some disastrous marking and allowed Daniel Agger to nod home unchallenged.
A performance that was hardly befitting for the occasion, Harry Redknapp will now have to work some magic in the transfer market if Queens Park Rangers are to do something special and stay in the Premier League – on this evidence, unlikely.
Harry Redknapp made four changes from the side defeated at home by West Bromwich Albion, with Julio Cesar recalled along with Ryan Nelsen, Nedum Onuoha and Samba Diakité at the expense of Rob Green, Anton Ferdinand, Fabio da Silva and Alejandro Faurlín.
Cesar started behind a back four of Onuoha, Nelsen, Clint Hill – who remained captain – and Armand Traoré. Stephane Mbia, Diakité and Adel Taarabt started through the middle with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jamie Mackie playing off Djibril Cissé.
Liverpool made three changes in the absence of boss Brendan Rodgers will illness. Suso, Lucas Leiva and Jonjo Shelvey made way with Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling coming in for the Reds.
Jose Reina started behind a defence of Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Jose Enrique. The midfield trio comprised of Allen, Steven Gerrard and the aforementioned Henderson, with Sterling and Stewart Downing playing off Luiz Suarez.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v LIVERPOOL
A full house and the Sky cameras greeted the two teams at Loftus Road, the home side evidently embroiled in a relegation battle and put under increasing pressure considering the manner of yesterday’s results and the gruelling up coming fixtures.
Rob Green dropped following his role in the West Brom debacle as Redknapp selected as strong a team as available to him. From the off however, the Queens Park Strangers tag has never looked more fitting as Rangers stumbled into the fixture.
Luis Suarez set the tone early on with a succession of quick turns and excellent movement contributing to a dominant opening for the hosts. He wriggled free of Clint Hill to test the returning Julio Cesar in the early offing.
Joe Allen was next to try his luck for the Reds, and while his effort did not prove fruitful it was one way traffic for the visiting side and soon enough they had the reward for great endeavour and skill in the opening ten minutes.
A neatly worked move saw LUIS SUAREZ given the ball 25-yards out. With nothing between he and the back four, the Uruguayan used an excellent turn of pace to get beyond the aforementioned Hill and caress beyond the unguarded Cesar.
It was a disastrous opening for QPR that looked a team of perfect strangers, the defenders in particular were looking shell-shocked. Stephane Mbia and Samba Diakité in midfield appeared to be chasing shadows and the hosts were firmly on the back foot.
Little surprise therefore that Liverpool doubled their lead with effortless ease. Stewart Downing made inroads down the right before easing his buoyant colleague LUIS SUAREZ. The forward moved in behind of Armand Traoré with consummate ease to find the by-line.
His centre towards Raheem Sterling was deflected back to the forward who lashed home his and Liverpool’s second. It was met with anger of the home crowd who watched their side harmlessly melting at the sight of the fleet-footed Uruguayan.
Mbia and Diakité were leaving their midfield berths all too often in a bid to take a stranglehold on the game. Mbia in particular cut a frustrated figure that seemed intent on trying to control the game single handedly, in truth to the detriment of the home side.
The home side registered an opportunity as the ineffective Adel Taarabt saw his effort ably fielded by Jose Reina just after the 15 minute mark. The Moroccan attempting also to take the bull by the horns with little success.
Mbia then tried his luck with a speculative overhead kick after working the angle in the heart of the visiting penalty area. His intentions were as errant as his resultant effort, firing handsomely over the bar much to the chagrin of a couple of his team mates.
Things were getting decidedly worse at the back with Suarez ready to pounce for what seemed an inevitably hatrick. Nelsen was forced to head over his own bar from another threatening Reds attack as the hosts threatened to hand over double figures at times.
Cesar spilled a powerful Gerrard drive from the edge of the area to rather compound the feverish element of this malaise. Rangers had their work cut out to stem the tide and keep it to two goals only – a foothold and perhaps something to work with.
It served as a brief period of mercy for the home side bereft of ideas, organisation and confidence. Downing’s corner from the left was played short to the unmarked Gerrard down the right side. His resultant cross found the unmarked DANIEL AGGER who powered a header beyond Cesar for the inevitable third.
Dissecting the goal that would ultimately crush QPR became all the more painful knowing that in both aspects of the move, Rangers were slow to realise what was happening and paid the ultimately price for their cluelessness and lack of cohesion.
Gerrard should have netted deserved fourth for the visiting side when he profited from some fine work from the tireless Suarez to lash beyond Cesar but not Nelsen, who once again found himself the man to trying and hold together the semblance of a crumbling defence.
All this with barely half an hour on the clock, the home supporters vocalised their frustrations and Taarabt chanced his arm once more from distance with little substance. It was going to be a very long night indeed for a set of supporters that had watched their side wilt.
Despite their dominance, Jordan Henderson had been relatively anonymous for the visiting side. His wayward effort was light relief for the home side who themselves saw Taarabt drive on and send a speculative drive wide of the right hand upright
Gerrard threatened to net the fourth when he lashed a venomous strike just over Cesar’s bar – the Brazlian as vocal as you will have ever seen, lambasting his defence for another comfortable effort on goal.
The half drew to a close with the home side jeered from the field. A first half performance certainly not befitting of Redknapp’s first few games in charge and the reality of the task ahead must surely have dawned on Rangers’ beleaguered boss.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-3 LIVERPOOL
Redknapp responded by throwing on Shaun Derry at the expense of Djibril Cissé. The forward contributed little to nothing in a first half that was played out in the QPR penalty area. This move saw Mbia pushed further on in a bid to support Jamie Mackie.
The fixture resumed its familiar style and only a sparking save for Cesar denied Suarez his hatrick. Nelsen’s clearance was weak on the edge of the area allowing the Urguayan to power the ball towards the top left hand corner. Cesar’s reactions were reason enough to oust Rob Green.
Henderson continued to give people a reason to smile, sitting aside from his ably-performing colleagues to fire a corner harmlessly over the bar. Referee Anthony Taylor deemed a poor challenge on Mbia worthy of a booking – for the Frenchman that is, for simulation. A bizarre call from an official that seemed a bit disappointed that the spotlight wasn’t over him for a change.
A blocked shot from Diakité was his final action of the fixture, being replaced by Esteban Granero, while Shaun Wright-Phillips continued to cut the very epitome of desperation down the right wing – Junior Hoilett remained poised to wait for his call from the bench.
With every move and every minute, Wright-Phillips made a spectacle and embarrassment of himself and was struggling with the jeers of supporters ringing in his ears – with very good reason taking into account the tentative nature of his challenges.
Lucas Leiva replaced Henderson for the Reds, who could have surely left the cabaret act on for the humour of QPR fans. Those in for gallows humour could only find solace in the chant of We’re gunna win 4-3 – that would eclipse even last year’s memorably fightback.
Granero’s first action of the game was to fire a frankly pitiful effort beyond Reina’s right hand upright – a real daisy cutter bereft of any real direction or purpose. Taarabt looked on with a face of thunder having been cajoled away from the kick by Derry.
Mbia shot straight at Reina before picking the ball up on a counter attack and curling another shot harmlessly wide of his left hand post. It was hardly awe-inspiring, but it was an improvement of sorts, a semblance of attacking threat.
A hamstring injury called time on Jose Enrique’s afternoon with Suso coming on in his stead. Cesar meanwhile was growing in confidence claiming crosses and performing admirably despite the disappointing circumstances.
A powderpuff effort from Mbia – who is essentially a defender – rather epitomised the plight of QPR, burying a tame effort into the midriff of the Spaniard Reina. It rather highlighted the sheer lack of attacking threat available to Redknapp at present – a lasting Mark Hughes legacy.
Wright-Phillips was substituted and heckled off – he had frankly given up on himself after another in a year and a half of appalling displays. He was replaced by Fabio da Silva who was as much of a defensive option with the game clearly gone.
A free kick on the edge of the area marked the final effort of the fixture and Taarabt was for some reason ushered away once more, Mbia fired into the arms of Reina. Bizarre that Taarabt should be discouraged given the circumstances.
Nevertheless Liverpool were the deserving winners of an encounter they never looked like losing from start to finish. Evidently the Reds took their foot off the gas at three, even giving Jamie Carragher a run out in central midfield, and it appeared they had that extra gear if required.
Rangers now face the routine task of Chelsea away in the New Year, and Harry will hope that a recruitment drive can resurrect the dead dog that fans had to endure watching in a limp and lifeless defeat – one of too many.
FINAL WHISTLE: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-3 LIVERPOOL