ARSENAL loanee Jay Simpson bagged himself a brace as Queens Park Rangers dominated against a weary Cardiff City.
The Bluebirds were booed off in both halves by their home support with Rangers in cruise control for most of the fixture, making tackles and finding passes at will.
Simpson coolly rolled the ball home to open the scoring for the visitors before completing his brace late on the in the first half with a thunderous low effort from close range.
There was only one side in the game in the second half, with the noise levels reflecting the visitors dominance, as Magilton’s men were cheered from the field by a buoyant travelling support.
They can now look forward to a mouth-watering Carling Cup clash against Chelsea with Magilton’s men undoubtedly on a high after a stunning performance and result.
Jim Magilton made two enforced changes to his line-up with Adel Taarabt (mumps) and Matthew Connolly (virus) missing out for the trip to the Welsh capital. Radek Cerny as expected lined-up in goal with Kaspars Gorkss partnering Damion Stewart at the heart of defence.
Mikele Leigertwood and Gary Borrowdale continued in their respective roles at full back, with Akos Buzsaky returning to take his place on the right and Wayne Routledge getting a hot reception on his return to Cardiff.
Martin Rowlands also returned to the heart of midfield alongside Ben Watson with Alejandro Faurlín dropping out, while Rowan Vine foraged in behind lone striker Jay Simpson with both players looking to get off the mark in a QPR shirt.
For all their injury woes the Bluebirds were boosted by the return of Joe Ledley as he took his place at the heart of midfield. Scottish international David Marshall lined-up behind Anthony Gerrard, Mark Hudson, Paul Quinn and former Rangers man Mark Kennedy.
Talented duo Chris Burke and Peter Whittingham took their respective roles on the flank with Ledley partnered by debutante Solomon Taiwo in the middle of the park. The fearsome duo of Michael Chopra and Jay Bothroyd started in attack.
Kick Off: Cardiff City v Queens Park Rangers
A lively opening to the game saw both side throw caution to the wind in a bid to take the early advantage. The Bluebirds were looking sprightly in attack with the fleet-footed Michael Chopra looking to get in behind a sizeable Rangers rearguard.
Cardiff looked at their most dangerous with the ball falling to the feet of Peter Whittingham and Mark Kennedy down the left. The latter adept at supporting his colleague and delivering some testing crosses for the aerial threat of Bothroyd.
Wayne Routledge came back to Cardiff for the second time since turning them down to join QPR, and predictably received a strong reception from the home support. Some keenly fought challenges ensured that his early impact was stifled on the left-wing.
It appeared that City were surprised by the selection of Buzsaky on the right and had little answer for his trickery and guile down the right flank. Indeed the home support were growing frustrated by the amount of ball time afforded to the Magical Magyar.
While Cardiff predictably looked dangerous with every attack to date, QPR were never out of the early offing with Buzsaky drilling an effort wide of the target when invited to shoot by a labouring Cardiff rearguard.
Simpson could have opened the scoring moments later as Buzsaky and the Arsenal man combining well on the edge of the area, but such is the issue with Rangers attacking at present he couldn’t get his shot away and was crowded out at the point of shooting.
After what had been a good spell of pressure from Cardiff, they didn’t have the significant clear cut chances to provide for their deadly strike force. Top scorer Chopra rarely got a sniff with Kaspars Gorkss once again hitting his best at the heart of defence.
When Rangers broke, they did so with great vigour and the Rangers support sensed that their side would get a chance owing to their excellent early interplay. It fell to the lone strike-man Simpson and the youngster jumped at the chance to score his first for QPR.
Good link up play involving Borrowdale and Rowan Vine saw the wandering forward roll through an exquisite through ball, Jay Simpson was on hand to apparently beat the offside trap and roll home into the bottom right hand corner with consummate ease.
City were outraged that a flag wasn’t forthcoming and frankly so were many Queens Park Rangers fans, but it mattered not as QPR had broken the deadlock at one of the division’s promotion favourites inside 20 minutes.
GOAL: Cardiff City 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
The away support grew in voice and confidence, and this rubbed off on their team with Rowan Vine in particular growing in stature after a nervy opening from the former Birmingham City striker.
The same could be said of Wayne Routledge as the winger showed his vast repertoire of skills switching over to the right.
Cardiff’s possession couldn’t be doubted but it was the visitors who used the ball more effectively with the Bluebirds stifled where it mattered most – inside the heart of the area. Joe Ledley’s well executed effort typified City’s style with a comfortable save for the Czech keeper Cerny.
Simpson should have added a second moments later with the exciting striker Simpson receiving and expert pass from fellow loanee Ben Watson. The influential midfield man found Simpson on the right hand side of the area with the defenders sitting off the Arsenal man.
He cut inside onto his more comfortable left foot and with the goal at his mercy only succeeded in steering his effort wide of the left-hand upright and past the advancing Rowan Vine. It seemed that despite Cardiff’s greater attacking potential it was QPR who looked more likely to add to their lead.
The highly-billed winger Chris Burke – brought in to replace the void left by Routledge – was having a disappointing time of it on the right flank, with Routledge overshadowing him at every turn down the touchline. It was his powerful drive cutting inside that tested Cerny once again – but was comfortably held by the R’s custodian.
Five minutes before the break QPR had the reward for their dominance in the opening period as Simpson finished off a fine, free-flowing move from the visitors to belie their recent profligacy in front of a baying home crowd.
Buzsaky and Routledge linked up effectively in the middle before the latter surging forward and finding Jay Simpson with an outstanding through ball with the outside of his right boot. Simpson didn’t hesitate in slamming the ball home right-footed into the bottom right hand corner.
The home fans fumed at their side’s inability to stop such a creative front-line, but in truth any defence would have struggled to cope with the impeccable movement of all those involved in the build up, and QPR had a deserved two goal lead before the break.
GOAL: Cardiff City 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
A far cry from the side that was booed off against Peterborough United and Nottingham Forest, Rangers were controlling proceedings and it was something that riled a divisive home crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The fans heckled and jeered their side from the field as referee Lee Probert drew the opening period to a close. The displeasure around the ground was evident for all to see and hear as the City players trudged off the field.
By comparison the away end was buzzing with excitement and surprise that their side had shown the cutting edge that had eluded them in recent times, that didn’t stop the nails being bitten as the sides took to the field for what would undoubtedly be a keenly fought second half.
Half Time: Cardiff City 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
Cardiff attempted to take the game to QPR in the early stages of the second half with Joe Ledley in particular a key figure in the Bluebirds midfield. His passing was the best chance City had in unlocking a stubborn visiting back-line.
The resilience of Gorkss and Stewart was pleasing on the eyes as the Latvian international exhumed class with every touch of the ball and every aerial challenge with Bothroyd.
While some may have expected Rangers to be cautious going into the second half, Magilton had a very different message for his side, with a renewed vigour and zest to their play, oozing confidence and class with every touch.
Ben Watson enjoyed the adulation of the travelling fans, before sending in a testing corner that was somehow kept out by more luck than judgement it seemed. The cross from the right went through a host of bodies in the area before being shinned clear in incredible fashion by a nervy defence.
The ‘Olé’s’ could be heard from the away end as Rangers possessional dominance incurred the wrath of the Cardiff fans, but displayed the R’s clear dominance in a fixture where the hosts would have undoubtedly have been favourites.
The Rangers midfield was dominant at all times with Solomon Taiwo frequently getting his pocket picked by the tough challenging of Watson and Rowlands. The combative duo were highly impressive as the R’s continued to hold the ball effectively.
Moments later it was nearly curtains for Cardiff with Rowan Vine disappointed not to extend a deserved lead in the Welsh capital. The striker received a deflected pass on the left hand side of the area and despite the close attendance of the swamped Simpson, he only had eyes for goal.
The roaming front-man came inside on his right foot and his curling snap-shot agonisingly came back off the right hand upright. Heads were in hands all around the ground with the travelling support worried that they had just witnessed a defining moment in the game.
Not a Cardiff attack to be had to date as Rangers ploughed forward in search of a third, with neat, simple passing the very bedrock of the visiting attacking threat. This truly was a spell of pure dominance from the R’s with the home support visibly frustrated as the noise level dramatically dipped.
The defence continued to back off with Rowan Vine allowed the freedom of movement and nothing but the green expanse to greet his every touch. The striker’s effort from distance drew a save from Marshall, as QPR continued to display their attacking credentials.
City were looking a shadow of the side that has been extremely effective and successful thus far this season, with Michael Chopra a virtual spectator with little service to feed the fearsome striker who remains the Championship’s most potent threat.
Dave Jones surprised many by taking off Peter Whittingham and the disappointing debutante Solomon Taiwo with youngster Josh Magennis and Gavin Rae taking to the field in a bid to change the Bluebirds’ fortunes.
The changes had little to no bearing on the clash with Rangers continually dominating possession and chances to the increasing frustration of the home crowd. In particular the departure of Jay Bothroyd for Ricardo Scimeca proved perplexing for a side with a two goal deficit.
The R’s made changed of their own with ten minutes to go with the visibly exhausted Jay Simpson and Rowan Vine leaving the field to deafening cheers in the away end, such was their impact on a fixture seemingly going Rangers way – Alessandro Pellicori and Patrick Agyemang on in their stead.
There was still time for Cardiff to make an impact and Chris Burke looked the most likely in providing that spark and creativity down the right, coming inside to fire a couple of efforts wide of the left hand upright.
Something that you wouldn’t expect from a Cardiff side was a lack of passion and endeavour, but it was clear to see that Dave Jones’ side had given up the ghost, with abuse raining down from a bitterly-disappointed home crowd.
A free-kick for a foul on Pellicori drew a yellow card for Paul Quinn, and Akos Buzsaky was the name on everyone’s lips as the Hungarian paced forward to take the set-piece. He and Watson loomed over the ball but it was Buzsaky that fired inches wide of the right hand post.
That brought proceedings to a close with QPR claiming back to back away wins to dispel some tricky form at Loftus Road. Only one defeat thus far this season as the fans were treated to an exhibition of total football with an end product to delight the travelling army.
Final Whistle: Cardiff City 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
David Marshall, Anthony Gerrard, Mark Hudson, Paul Quinn, Mark Kennedy, Chris Burke, Solomon Taiwo (Gavin Rae 54), Peter Whittingham (Josh Magennis 54), Michael Chopra, Jay Bothroyd (Ricardo Scimeca 67).
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Mikele Leigertwood, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart, Gary Borrowdale, Wayne Routledge, Ben Watson, Martin Rowlands, Akos Buzsaky, Rowan Vine (Patrick Agyemang 82), Jay Simpson (Alessandro Pellicori 77)
Radek Cerny – 7/10
Radek was very comfortable with all he had to deal with today, stopping some speculative drives and claiming some wayward crosses in a disappointing home attack.
The keeper in truth was surprisingly under-worked, which owed much to the tremendous work of the central defenders Kaspars Gorkss and Damion Stewart who snuffed out every attack with aplomb.
Mikele Leigertwood – 7/10
Did a job at right back today and looked comfortable for the majority of the fixture – only a couple of wayward passes a blemish on what was an accomplished display.
The converted defender showed impressive strength both in the tackle and in the upper body to keep a tricky customer in Peter Whittingham at bay – subsequently his impact was lessened and caused his withdrawal mid-way through the second half.
Kaspars Gorkss – 9/10
The Latvian defender was awesome at the back today, he was the rock for which Rangers based their sturdy defensive display – both he and Damion Stewart staked their claim for a regular first team place.
His partnership with the big Jamaican was almost like they’d never been apart since their outstanding performances last season. Surely Magilton will have to keep Gorkss in the line-up wherever possible on the evidence of this display.
Damion Stewart – 8/10
The big Jamaican was also a rock at the heart of defence and both he and Kaspars Gorkss built a formidable partnership. Whenever he was beaten Gorkss was there to cover and the understanding was firmly established throughout.
He didn’t give Michael Chopra a touch for the majority of the game and Jay Bothroyd also found the going tough in the aerial battle against Damion. Has to keep his place alongside Kaspars.
Gary Borrowdale – 7/10
Borrowdale put in an efficient performance at left-back and contributed well to Rangers’ attacking threat. He kept a tricky player in Chris Burke quiet for the majority of the game which was a particular delight for the former Coventry man.
The full back was solid plain and simple, as he has been for the majority of the season. Nothing fancy in this no-frills display, but solid and effective.
Wayne Routledge – 9/10
A return that only he could have dreamed of as Wayne Wonder tore the Cardiff defence to sunder on numerous occasions, notably in the second half.
Not only going outside of Gerrard and Kennedy to put in some telling crosses, but also came inside to torment the midfielders and central defenders. His assist for Simpson’s second exhumed class with a classy ball on the outside of his boot.
Ben Watson – 8/10
Watson was an integral cog in the Rangers machine and both he and Rowlands ran the show in the centre of the park. The carrot-topped midfielder was strong in the tackle while spraying the ball about with great creativity.
The former Palace man put his indifferent debut performance behind him to put the Bluebirds to the sword today. Unfortunately he is unavailable for selection against Chelsea on Wednesday night.
Martin Rowlands – 9/10
A gritty, battling performance tinged with the class that we have come to expect from Rangers joint longest-serving player. Rowley was a key contender for man of the match for his all round excellent contribution to the game.
He tackled hardly and fairly and created an awful lot from the QPR engine room. He and Watson looked accomplished together even though it was their first pairing looked like they had played together for years.
Akos Buzsaky – 8/10
The Hungarian midfielder benefited from a spell on the sidelines and bounced back to put in one of his best performances in a Rangers shirt. While some would argue he is not a wide player, he certainly staked his credentials to make that place his own.
His excellent close ball control was matched by his ability to pick the perfect pass and see Rangers to a victory in the Welsh capital. He will be hoping he did enough today to secure his spot against Chelsea.
Rowan Vine – 7/10
Initial signs were that Vine was going to struggle in his role behind a striker, and cut the figure of a headless chicken in the early stages. Charging about and clattering into people without much class or even looking like scoring.
Then it clicked! – Vine suddenly picked up some confidence after the break and he ran the Cardiff defence ragged, they being rather foolish in affording him space in key areas. Only the post denied Vine his first of the season.
Jay Simpson – 9/10
Simpson’s coolly taken goals were perhaps the biggest positives on the day as finally Rangers finished off the chances they had created, and scored the goals at crucial times.
The Arsenal striker rolled home his first, and lashed home his second to the delight of the travelling support, who may now be coming around to the idea that this man could score the wealth of the goals in a possible playoff push.
SUB: Alessandro Pellicori
Replaced Jay Simpson 77
Pellicori came from the bench and did what was expected of him, winning the aerial challenged and laying balls on for his strike partner.
He will be looking to play a more important role in the coming weeks as a genuine target-man for QPR defenders to aim for in times of trouble.
SUB: Patrick Agyemang
Replaced Rowan Vine 82
Agyemang didn’t really get into the game in the final ten minutes but held the ball well on the flank in a bid to run down the clock – his interplay with Routledge in particular was positive.
It is pleasing to see Magilton using the entire squad with Agyemang still very much in the picture as the R’s travel to Chelsea on Wednesday.
Jim Magilton: 9/10 – Magilton got his selection, formation and tactics absolutely spot-on today and this was reflected in his side’s continued dominance.
He selected Vine in behind Simpson despite misfiring in recent weeks, nevertheless it seemed to do the trick with QPR seeing the majority of the ball.
Starting Rowlands, Buzsaky and Gorkss was a masterstroke with a combination of grit and style doing the trick for QPR. An all round excellent performance and win, well done Jim.
Dave Jones: 3/10 – If you speak to Cardiff City supporters one may think I’m being generous by giving him this mark, as his side didn’t step up to the mark throughout the ninety minutes.
Starting with Taiwo was soon shown to be a mistake as the Bluebirds missed McPhail’s creativity. His decision to take off Bothroyd and bring on Scimeca was frankly baffling for a side losing at home.
Mr L Probert: 6/10 – The official made some strange early decisions, including the booking of Damion Stewart for a tackle from behind – two such tackles were made by another QPR player and a Cardiff player with no punishment.
His persistency in signalling advantage then calling play back was rather infuriating and he really should consult the Laws of the Game on that count.
Overall these were only minor complaints in a refereeing display that wasn’t really controversial or eventful.
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