QUEENS Park Rangers have given their survival hopes a shot in the arm after a resounding win over fellow promotees Swansea City.
While the visiting side attempted to nullifying the home confidence with a brand of patient passing play, it was the hosts that broke the deadlock.
Joey Barton latched onto a half cleared corner to knock home the opening goal in first half injury time and the home side never looked back.
Jamie Mackie extended the advantage cutting in from the right before burying a deflected effort past a rooted Michel Vorm, before Ákos Buzsáky rounded the scoring of with a scorching strike from distance.
The Rs fans were in fine flow throughout the encounter and gave their side a rapturous reception as they left the field – belief now courses through the veins of the club as they remain outside the drop zone.
Mark Hughes make two changes from the side that were defeated against Manchester United with Shaun Derry (suspended) and Jay Bothroyd dropping out at the expense of the previously rested Bobby Zamora and Joey Barton.
Paddy Kenny started behind an unchanged back four of Nedum Onouha, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill and Taye Taiwo. Barton lined up with Ákos Buzsáky and Samba Diakité in midfield with Adel Taarabt and Jamie Mackie flanking lone forward Zamora.
Swansea started with Michel Vorm behind a defence of Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams, Steven Caulker and Neil Taylor. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Leon Britton and Joe Allen started in the middle with Scott Sinclair and Wayne Routledge playing wide of Danny Graham.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v SWANSEA
As the players came out for the opening half both sets of tactics were laid bare, diametric opposites but cunning in their own intricacies. Swansea have favoured a languid style of passing football, primarily famed for its effect in Italian football.
The task was to draw the Rangers midfield and defence from their positions and play into the gaps, feeding on the pace of ex-QPR duo Wayne Routledge and Scott Sinclair and the finishing prowess of Danny Graham, a man who put Rangers to the sword with Watford last term.
An inevitable period of lull saw supporters cry, ‘it’s just like watching paint dry,’ and at times it certainly seemed that way. Football famed for being enterprising and fluid had developed into more of a laborious mechanism to grind opposition to frustration, boredom and causing lapses in concentration and perseverance.
Akos Buzsaky troubled Michel Vorm in the opening exchange with an acrobatic volley from distance, in truth the talented Dutch stopper was able to watch it past the post but a warning shot was certainly fired for the home side.
When Jamie Mackie forced a smart stop from the stopper just minutes later it was looking like a frustrating fixture for Swansea, much like their recent defeat at Newcastle. While seeing the majority of the ball their inability to make that final scything pass left them vulnerable to counter-attacking threats.
They were not without their opportunities in a first half that had brief flurries of activity. Steven Caulker – who scored a last gasp equaliser for Bristol City in W12 last season – rose highest from a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner only to see his header stunningly blocked on the line by the rejuvenated Barton.
Another succession of opportunities fell the way of the hosts, despite the hosts’ evident ownership of the ball. First Adel Taarabt tantalised down the right before firing straight at Vorm – better was still to follow for the more offensively potent home side.
Samba Diakite was looking imperious in the heart of midfield and his well placed centre allowed Bobby Zamora to utilise his ample strength and bring Mackie into play. The wide-man could only place his effort at Vorm while under pressure from Ashley Williams. A genuine let off for Swansea after a moment of defensive slumber.
The visitors were starting to emerge from the comfort of their penalty area and a fantastic knock-down from Graham made room for marauding midfielder Sigurdsson, but the former Reading man was thwarted first by Clint Hill then moments later a powerful drive from distance was well fielded by Kenny.
At the other end Zamora was the guilty party for a glaring missed opportunity when he blazed over when we’ll placed in the heart of the home penalty area. A minute’s added on time was displayed and Rangers’ greater desire and cutting thrust in the attacking third shine through in one defining moment.
The fans hailed a foul given on Zamora, in truth it was a tad generous but given the nature of his previous grievances it was quite justified on the balance of probability alone. Taarabt’s scintillating centre caused bedlam in the heart of the area and Joey Barton stabbed home the eventual and inevitable opener.
The two sides went into half time with QPR lauding their ability to convert opportunities and with Swansea having to rethink a game plan in tatters owing to the unfortunate timing of Rangers’ crucial opening goal.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-0 SWANSEA
Much was the game changing nature of the goal, Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers made two changes. The ineffectual Wayne Routledge and left back Neil Taylor made way for Alan Tate and lively wide-man Nathan Dyer – the Swans would evidently look to redress the balance.
It certainly had some effect as the resolute unit that Rangers had created started to wobble a tad. Joe Allen’s effort was fielded at the second attempt by Kenny with the close attention of Graham threatening to feed on any scraps the Rs keeper could provide him.
Ten minutes into a half that had started with a little more bang and QPR had reward for their undying perseverance. After Sunday’s Old Trafford debacle the beautiful irony would not be lost on QPR fans that watched their side extend their lead with another controversial decision.
Jamie Mackie was coming in and out of an offside position and received the ball when potentially behind the last defender. He picked up Anton Ferdinand’s forward pass before ghosting past a seemingly endless amount of challenges and seeing his left-footed drive deflect off Angel Rangel and beyond a rooted Vorm.
Another Caulker header had to be fielded by Rangers, once again from the excellent craft of Sigurdsson’s set-piece. His cross found the young defender only for Hill to clear away from under the nose of Graham – baying for blood as he craved a goal to halve the deficit in West London.
The Swans went 4-4-2 in a bid to add a little more attacking endeavour to a game the seemed to rely solely on short, simple passing that failed to grind down a resolute defensive unit in blue and white hoops. Luke Moore came on for Leon Britton, but in truth could not get much joy from Ferdinand and Hill who were combative throughout.
On 67 minutes, Rangers had their clinching goal and it was a goal fitting to win any game of football. Taarabt once again made the yards with some excellent skill down the left flank, his pass found Akos Buzsaky who was allowed to let fly to devastating effect, rifling beyond Vorm into the top left hand corner.
The ‘keeper lambasted his defence and midfield alike for allowing such an effort to be executed, but there could be little mistake it the conviction of the finish as Brendan Rodgers was starting down the barrel of a third successive thumping defeat at Loftus Road.
Swansea were by now deflated and Rangers went for the throat, Taarabt was the heartbeat of the counter attacking flow with Mackie virtually out on his feet after some tireless running down the right hand side. Excellent football was now on display by the host, combined with that eye for goal and endeavour that had given them the decisive edge throughout.
Onouha went close to netting his first for the club when he slid in at the far post only for a deflected effort to be palmed wide by the overworked Worm. Mackie and Zamora made way for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jay Bothroyd who both had their chances to add to the ever-growing tally.
Wright-Phillips cut a figure lacking confidence as he sliced over when well-placed inside the area, and a little more desire from Bothroyd could have seen him on the scoresheet on no less than two occasions when he found his way through a forest of legs in the area.
Nevertheless it was Rangers who could celebrate and important home victory while Swansea will tentatively – albeit probably unnecessarily – look over their shoulder as the pack starts to close the gap. Three home victories on the spin for QPR, while Swansea have suffered a fourth consecutive defeat.
FULL TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 3-0 SWANSEA