QUEENS Park Rangers once again displayed their class against the odds to dispatch of a Reading side that appears a shadow of its former self.
It looked against the odds when Andy Hall pulled out his party trick and sent off Ben Watson for taking a quick free-kick, but Ákos Buzsáky lifted the roof at Loftus Road with a scintillating free-kick.
Jay Simpson doubled the advantage, thumping the ball home from close range after an excellent flowing move despite their inferior numbers.
Ívar Ingimarsson was harshly given his marching orders just moments into the second period as the referee threatened to ruin the game as a spectacle.
From the R’s perspective it created space for the flair players and substitutes Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang grabbed some confidence boosting goals to seal the victory.
Sections of the away support booed their side and called for the manager’s head, but Rodgers was given a slight reprieve when Brian Howard bagged a consolation from close range.
Jim Magilton had a big decision to make with Ben Watson once again available to return from suspension, and he introduced him back to the line-up at the expense of Gavin Mahon.
So Radek Cerny sat behind a back four of Peter Ramage, Kaspars Gorkss, skipper Damion Stewart and Gary Borrowdale, with Watson and Alejandro Faurlín linking up in the middle of the park.
Wayne Routledge, Ákos Buzsáky and Adel Taarabt were the tricky trio once more behind the solitary front-man Jay Simpson.
Reading made several changed from the side that were defeated at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday with Adam Federici marshalling a back four of Darren O’Dea, Matthew Mills, Ívar Ingimarsson and Jay Tabb.
Kalifa Cissé and Brynjar Gunnarsson were the holding midfielders with Jimmy Kébé and Jobi McAnuff marauding the right and left-flank respectively.
With Noel Hunt absent through injury Brendan Rodgers looked to young duo Shane Long and Simon Church to lead the Royals forward charge.
Ramage – Stewart (c) – Gork?s – Borrowdale
Watson – Faurlín
Taarabt – Routledge – Buzsáky
O’Dea – Mills – Ingimarsson – Tabb
Kébé – Gunnarsson – Cissé – McAnuff
Long – Church
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Reading
The game started in a positive fashion with both sides looking to Saturday as their motivation. Rangers looking to build on a thumping home victory while the Royals sought to dispel a disappointing defeat at league leaders West Brom.
While the positivity was evident on the field from the hosts, the away side seemed content to soak up the pressure and play on the break, with two deep lying midfielders in Gunnarsson and Cissé doing their best to stifle Rangers’ creative threat.
Referee Hall could hardly be called subdued in his decision making and it wasn’t difficult to see why he’d refereed many goalless fixtures in the past. He persistently broke the game up with a string of pernickety decisions, one of which went in the hosts’ favour.
A soft foul on Jay Simpson lead to a free-kick in a positive area outside the right hand side of the area. Alejandro Faurlín stepped forward and fired a curling left-footed effort straight into the arms of stopper Adam Federici.
Reading were using their wingers as their main outlet of creativity with enterprising running from Jobi McAnuff a distinctive positive from the visitors’ perspective. Unfortunately for him and Reading the end product was distinctly lacking.
Adel Taarabt was looking to build on a sterling midweek display, and had a great opportunity to open the scoring in W12 once more when Routledge picked out the young Moroccan. Unfortunately for him Federici was more than equal to his tame effort.
Routledge himself was proving his tricky self as part of the influential trio, as his direct and purposeful running put pressure on the Reading central pairings. However the deep lying midfield was useful in snuffing out the majority of the R’s attacks in their infancy.
Reading are a side that have got the better of Rangers numerous times at Loftus Road, and they nearly broke the deadlock against the run of overall play, when Jobi McAnuff bamboozled Peter Ramage down the left flank before firing a weak effort into the side netting.
The Championship journeyman should have done better in truth with young forward Simon Church incredulous on the edge of the area that McAnuff chose to shoot instead of picking a pass.
Moments later the referee harshly booked Ben Watson on the edge of the area when McAnuff was a little to clever for the Wigan loanee – his first foul and indeed one of Rangers first, it mattered not a jot to referee Hall.
Taarabt was proving a handful down the left flank once more, a position he previously stated that he relishes. His ball square to Watson nearly set up the opening goal for Rangers with the loanee firing expertly towards the bottom left hand corner only to be denied by an outstretched leg.
With half an hour on the clock Rangers were somehow down to ten men. Andy Hall had cautioned a couple more players, with his one foul – one booking policy and with Watson too quick off the mark with a set-piece Hall seemed to take great delight in pacing over and handing out a second yellow.
Rangers were down to ten men in controversial circumstances, but the Loftus Road crowd has shown in recent years that it thrives when given the tag of underdogs, and barely second later they had something to cheer when the deadlock was broken.
With Watson off, Ákos Buzsáky took up the set-piece duties, and duly fired home a stunning right-footed effort into the bottom left hand corner, beyond the reach of the Australian Federici.
Buzsáky scored his second in two games, and his fourth in three at Loftus Road to hand Rangers a lead against the odds.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Reading
Despite the numerical disadvantage Jim Magilton persisted with the same formation, with a couple of the trio dropping deep at times to cover the loss of Watson.
Reading were attacking with a bit more belief to assert their extra man, and Mr Hall was roundly booed the closer he came to the Loftus Road end.
It seemed at times that Rangers had the extra man on the field however as they continued their attacking brand of passing football in the face of great adversity.
The atmosphere seemed to emulate that against Birmingham City last season, with the backs-against-the-walls attitude bringing the best from the home crowd.
Moments later the unthinkable happened as the ten men extended their lead, with a breathtaking exhibition of passing football.
In a similar fashion to Saturday, Rangers picked their passes with deadly expertise with Buzsáky picking out Routledge on the right flank.
The former Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur man took a touch before firing a teasing far post cross for lone striker Jay Simpson. He broke away from some negligible marking to slam the ball home from inside the six-yard-box and lift the roof from Loftus Road.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Reading
Taarabt was teasing the Reading rearguard with yet more trickery from his skilful repertoire. He sent O’Dea one way then the next before coasting past his man and delivering to Routledge – his subsequent effort was saved well by Federici.
Rangers were seeing a great deal of the ball on the edge of the Reading penalty area, with the visitors maintaining the same style of play with effectively a six-man defence.
That was not to say that it was all Rangers with the Royals posing their biggest threat on the counter-attack with the lively Kébé proving a stern test for the reliable Gary Borrowdale.
Another soft decision gave Reading a free-kick on the edge of the hosts’ penalty area, and Simon Church’s free-kick gave a timely reminder to QPR as it cracked back off the right hand upright.
Indeed it was the visitors best chance of the opening period, as they displayed great profligacy from distance, firing the ball into the upper tier on a couple of occasions.
The referee blew the half time whistle to great acclaim from the Rangers’ fans, who knew that their side had battled bravely against the odds to achieve a two goal advantage.
The same reception wasn’t reserved for the official, who had incurred the wrath of both sides throughout the opening 45 with his persistent egotistical nature and needless bookings.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Reading
It’s fair to say that Rangers were looking for more of the same as they entered the field for the second half, the same couldn’t be said for Royals boss Brendan Rodgers who made two changes to his side.
Kalifa Cissé and Jay Tabb were withdrawn with Brian Howard and Gylfi Sigurdsson the men to take their place.
It would be fair to say that Rodgers’ game plan didn’t go to perfection with Ívar Ingimarsson tripping Jay Simpson and rather harshly earning himself a second booking to the delight of the baying home crowd.
The Icelandic defender took a while to trudge off the field, evidently bitterly disappointed with the decision of the official who had levelled up his card count with two decisions of breathtaking incompetence.
It was redemption for many of the home crowd who had seen their side more than match the 11 men of Reading – now they had a chance to exploit the space provided to them by referee Mr Hall.
It seemed to spur the visitors on initially with Shane Long unlucky not to reduce the deficit after a teasing cross from McAnuff. The Ireland international nodded inches over the bar from close range to the disappointment of the travelling fans.
The home fans sensed that one more goal may be enough to break the spirit that Reading had built up since going town to ten.
Mindful of this, Magilton decided to freshen things up in the forward line with Jay Simpson having picked up a knock in that challenge with Ingimarsson. Striker Rowan Vine replaced him, a player in desperate need of a goal to boost his confidence.
Spaces were appearing everywhere in a game that had become incredibly open, and Rangers were doing their best to find those gaps and utilise them to their advantage.
Indeed Routledge and Taarabt were proving tough adversaries for Reading as they attacked the space in front of them and put pressure on a faltering Reading back-line.
Taarabt nearly gave Rangers that all-important third goal but his wayward effort drifted over the bar. Nevertheless it was met with applause in stark contrast to the reaction against Barnsley a few weeks previous.
Routledge was hitting peak form once more as he drifted over to the left, providing Rowan Vine not one but two guilt-edge chances from the left by-line, but the former Birmingham City man appeared to be a dog without his bone and bereft of confidence in front of goal to spurn both opportunities.
Moments later Taarabt attempted to get in on the action once more and his purposeful running nearly had an end product that he had threatened to provide, but unfortunately for him, the Moroccan’s shot drifted tamely over once more.
With little under 20 minutes remaining the R’s bagged the goal they had threatened throughout the second half with Taarabt the tormentor once more, playing the ball to Rowan Vine who in turn thumped home his goal and celebrated with great delight.
A confidence boosting strike for the front-man, who had bagged his first of the season, and will undoubtedly look to kick on from this moment forward.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Reading
Patrick Agyemang had been introduced from the bench to great effect to run at some weary legs in a makeshift Reading back-line. His great skill nearly opened a gap only for Federici to thwart the former Preston man.
The away end was stinging in their criticism of current boss Brendan Rodgers, with some even calling for the head of the former Watford man. It was music to the ears of Jim Magilton and Rangers who continued to strike the right chords at home.
Agyemang was proving to be a persistent nuisance to the Reading defence and indeed the linesman, who flagged him incorrectly offside twice in quick succession. But in typical fashion he balanced it out by giving two foul throws in the second period.
A killer through ball by substitute Gavin Mahon unlocked the defence with Patrick Agyemang nipping through the defence, breaching the tighter of the three offside decisions, before using exemplary trickery to put Federici on his backside and firing into an empty net.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 4-0 Reading
Rangers seemed like they could score at will at times and their four goal scoreline certainly didn’t flatter them with a glut of chances in the second period alone.
The players seemed to have cooled their attacking nature a tad in favour of keeping possession of the ball and ultimately seeing the occasion through to it’s conclusion.
Reading to their credit continued to battle hard in the face of ever-decreasing odds and Jimmy Kébé epitomised their fighting spirit down the right hand side, and drew the adulation of the supporters.
The efforts of the Royals players was to be rewarded as they evidently continued playing for their boss – it was plain to see that despite fan protestations, he hadn’t lost the dressing room.
A stinging drive from distance was well beaten away by Radek Cerny in one of few saves he had to make throughout the game, with Reading undeniably having chances but spurning them wide of the target.
The game itself seemed to be petering out to a conclusion with even Andy Hall becoming disinterested in dishing out further yellow cards despite giving fouls that were significantly worse than the ones made by both Watson and Ingimarsson.
A nervousness creeped into the QPR back-line as they were unable to clear a deep cross and Sheffield United loan man Brian Howard was on hand to dispatch from close range in front of the visiting support.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 4-1 Reading
QPR did see the game through to its conclusion and had they not taken their foot off the pedal at four it could have been many more for the hosts.
Rangers secured their first home win over the Royals since 1967, the year they went on to achieve promotion, could it be a useful omen for Rangers as they face a tough test against Derby County at the weekend.
Meanwhile Reading continue to fight fire near the relegation zone with the supporters evidently unhappy at their showing in West London this evening.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 4-1 Reading
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Wayne Routledge, Ákos Buzsáky (Gavin Mahon 66), Kaspars Gorkss, Ben Watson (Sent Off 30), Alejandro Faurlín, Jay Simpson (Rowan Vine 53), Gary Borrowdale, Adel Taarabt (Patrick Agyemang 76).
Adam Federici, Kalifa Cissé (Gylfi Sigurdsson 46), Matthew Mills, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Jay Tabb (Brian Howard 46), Shane Long, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Kébé, Ívar Ingimarsson, Simon Church (Hal Robson-Kanu 56), Darren O’Dea.