QUEENS Park Rangers have had four timely nails hammered into their coffin as Michu and Swansea City ran riot at the Liberty Stadium.
Strikerless Rangers were behind as the aforementioned Michu capitalised on a Julio Cesar spill, albeit in fortuitous fashion when his miss-hit clip drifted over the ‘keeper and into the net.
It was two before the break when Angel Rangel coasted through a static rearguard before getting two bites of the cherry to stab home what was always going to be a clincher.
Rangers did very little in the encounter to inspire their travelling supporters, but Bobby Zamora notched from the bench after Michel Vorm parried an Adel Taarabt effort to give the score some respectability.
Within minutes Pablo Hernandez and Michu deal the final blows to a QPR side that seems to have resigned themselves to relegation, at least on the evidence of this pitiful performance.
Harry Redknapp made two changes from the side held at home by Norwich City, with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Fabio da Silva dropping out for Nedum Onuoha and Jermaine Jenas, while Loic Remy was not deemed good enough to start following a groin injury.
Julio Cesar started behind a defence of Onuoha, Clint Hill, Christopher Samba and Armand Traoré, while Shaun Derry and Stephane Mbia started through the middle. Jenas, Jamie Mackie and Andros Townsend started just behind an advanced midfielder in Adel Taarabt.
Swansea City themselves made two changes from the side that lost against West Ham United. Gerrard Tremmel and Leon Britton dropped out at the expense of Michel Vorm and Nathan Dyer.
Vorm started behind a defence of Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams and Ben Davies. Ki Sung-Yeung, Jonathan de Guzman and Pablo Hernandez started through the middle with Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge starting wide of striker Michu.
KICK OFF: SWANSEA CITY v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City joined the Premier League together in 2011, and it would be fair to say that’s as close as their paths have come since then, with the Swans kicking on dramatically in the Premier League, and indeed the League Cup.
Rangers have been the drunken half brother of the Swans, proclaiming new dawns and a glut of high price captures, rather serving to ruin the elation of promotion. Swansea meanwhile used and rode the crest of that wave to carry them into a comfortable mid-table position.
The Liberty Stadium has never truly been a place for QPR to come and get positive results. As always the visitors were pinned back by the home side whose pressure on the ball and incisive attacking play saw them persistently threaten early on.
City had sufficient time and space to measure their passes effectively as the likes of Ki were able to break up play and feed the more attack-minded talent in the set up. One of those was Nathan Dyer, a player that seems to continually improve every time the sides meet.
Dyer engineered himself some space on the edge of the area before firing directly at Julio Cesar. The shot was too hot to handle for the Brazilian international who parried right at the feet of MICHU.
The forward had seemingly the simplest of tasks, but he sliced his effort that fortunately drifted over the recovered Cesar and dropped into the back of the net. It was poor from the visiting defence, but the finishing had all the hallmarks of a striker whose luck is very much in.
Christopher Samba was unfortunate to see himself in the book after Michu bounced off the man-mountain defender. Referee Neil Swarbrick rather showed a sign of things to come, booking the Congolese defender for what in essence was relatively nothing.
The home side were having all of the ball, and this was contributed to heavily by the fact that QPR had no out ball, not striker leading the line to hold up the ball and help dictate the flow. Loic Remy’s costly absence and Bobby Zamora’s inability to play more than 30 or so minutes rather underlined their lack of strike force.
As a result Cesar was going short to defenders, Hill, Traoré, Samba and Onuoha, it was disastrous at times with the defenders seemingly unable to control the ball and pick a pass into midfield – instead panicked and going long into Taarabt anyway.
Swansea were tight, organised and deadly in possession. There was hardly a wasted motion from the hosts who merely bided their time before finding the right man in the right position. Michu latched onto a good ball from Chico Flores, only to be thwarted by a combination of Samba and Cesar.
City did have their deserved second on 17 minutes and it owed much to that aforementioned organisation and cutting thrust from the Swans. Ex-QPR man Wayne Routledge played a scything through ball to ANGEL RANGEL, who evaded a near non-existent Rangers back line.
The Spaniard coasted through down the right by line before shooting straight at Cesar. The Brazilian parried once more, and rather epitomising how far off the pace the defenders were, Rangel had a second punt on goal, this time beating the Rangers ‘keeper.
In a fixture where Redknapp constructed a side not to concede, the visiting defence looked strangers at times, with the midfield imploding at the very sight of a buccaneering run from a Swansea City defender.
Without stating the obvious, it simply was not working for QPR. Taarabt was isolated, Mackie seemed unsure of his role and despite getting wide, there was little point in Townsend crossing the ball to nobody as Rangers saw their counter-attacks continually dashed.
Chico Flores had to be carried off on a stretcher for the home side on 29 minutes, to be replaced by former Arsenal man Kyle Bartley. The Swans continued to dictate the flow of the fixture and could seemingly cut the visitors open at will.
Dyer struck over the bar from the edge of the area, while Adel Taarabt was booked for kicking the ball away when he was rather harshly penalised for a foul on Ki – a man that was man-marking him throughout the encounter.
The referee then completely lost the plot by delivering yellow cards to both Ben Davies and Armand Traoré in close succession. There had hardly been a tackle in the first half, but somehow four bookings had been elicited from the fussy Mr Swarbrick.
The official then called time on a first half that unashamedly belonged to Swansea City. The visitors are relegation threatened with good reason as they struggled to get to grips with a City side that had the deserved two goal advantage.
HALF TIME: SWANSEA CITY 2-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Redknapp elected to make two changes at the break with Mackie and Derry hauled off and Esteban Granero and Bobby Zamora coming on in their stead. Zamora would surely be a starter were it not for a problematic hip injury and his presence was felt immediately.
Taarabt was played in down the right and when his right-footed shot was parried by Michel Vorm, BOBBY ZAMORA pounced and fired home under the body of the outstretched Dutchman – the corpse twitched.
Swansea City simply decided to step the game up a gear and restore their two goal advantage two minutes later. Michu was afforded the space to loft a well-guided pass over to PABLO HERNANDEZ. He beat Onuoha all ends up before squeezing the ball beyond Cesar and Hill from the by-line.
It was another case of cataclysmic defending, really desperate at times with Onuoha seemingly unable to stop the flying Hernandez and being exposed at full back. Redknapp cut a rather emotionless figure on the touchline.
Jermaine Jenas was brought in as a box-to-box midfielder, which is interesting when you consider he was not only anonymous but also spent most of the game on the halfway line doing very little with the possession that came his way.
Rangers should have had the chance to cut the deficit from the penalty spot when Andros Townsend’s cross was handled quite unashamedly by Ashley Williams. The referee didn’t say yes or no, he simply did nothing – rather an epitome of his afternoon at large.
While Mr Swarbrick was contented with picking off the easy yellow cards, he didn’t want to give the most glaring incident of the fixture. If he didn’t see the incident, one must question why. If he thought it wasn’t a spot kick, then he shouldn’t be a top flight official.
Townsend chanced his arm from distance once more with little substance while Wayne Routledge was taken off to a good reception from both sets of fans as he was replaced by Kemy Agustien.
Another indefensible factor was QPR’s abject defending, and this was under the spotlight once more as Swansea further extended their lead. A simply ball over the top from Dyer saw MICHU and Samba challenge for possession.
Samba came up woefully short as the Spaniard nipped in before cooly finishing with the outside of his left boot, beyond the forlorn Cesar and hammer the final nail in the QPR coffin, if not only for the afternoon, but maybe the season.
Jermaine Jenas was withdrawn with Shaun Wright-Phillips coming on. In fairness to the wide-man he already made Rangers appear far brighter upon his introduction. Granero too looked up for the fixture with some bright passing and movement.
Once can’t help but think a good period with the ball for QPR was rather down to Swansea taking their foot off the gas and allowing the hosts onto them. A couple of pot shots from Zamora and a wild effort from Taarabt seemed all that Rangers could muster in riposte.
Michu was withdrawn through injury with little under ten minutes remaining with Luke Moore coming on in his stead. Taarabt meanwhile showed a brief glimpse of his class when he beat three challenges cutting in from the left to see his effort dip just wide to Vorm’s left.
One of a number of hopeful long passes nearly yielded a consolation for Rangers when Wright-Phillips latched onto a direct ball. His first time flick beat Vorm all ends up, but rather summed up the fortunes of QPR when it bounced back off the cross bar.
It seemed to be where Rangers would if anything get the most joy, with direct through balls seeing Williams and the substitute Bartley at odds to deal with Zamora and latterly Wright-Phillips. It mattered little however as the referee called time on the afternoon’s clash.
Swansea were a cut above QPR, rather making a mockery of their respective promotion campaigns. While Swansea continue to build and flourish, brazen, brash and arrogant QPR look to be paying the price for running before being able to stand.
FULL TIME: SWANSEA CITY 4-1 QUEENS PARK RANGERS