QUEENS Park Rangers stunned Molineux as they ran out comfortable winners as they surge into the top half of the Premier League.
In truth Rangers were very good value for the victory, with the attacking line tormenting the hosts and the R’s rearguard able to hold off an impotent Wolves with ease.
Heckled from the off, Joey Barton silenced a vociferous home crowd caressing home the opener after finding himself well placed in the area.
Wolves were barely out of first gear when Alejandro Faurlín lashed home a second from the edge of the area, and further opportunities went awry for the visitors to treble their lead.
Wright-Phillips cannoned an effort off the post before the deserved third came in the second period as Armand Traoré showed excellent composure to slot in DJ Campbell.
Wolves harangued their players from the park as Barton and Queens Park Rangers could glow in the Black Country sunshine after a job thoroughly well done.
Neil Warnock named an unchanged line-up for the visit to Wolves, evidently impressed with his charges against Newcastle.
Paddy Kenny started behind a back four of Luke Young, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traoré – with Alejandro Faurlín and Shaun Derry starting in the middle.
Joey Barton played in advance of the pairing alongside Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adel Taarabt with Jay Bothroyd the lone front-man.
Wolves started with Wayne Hennessey behind a back four of Richard Stearman, Christophe Berra, Roger Johnson and George Elokobi.
Michael Kightly, Karl Henry, Jamie O’Hara and Matt Jarvis started across midfield with Stephen Ward partnering Kevin Doyle in attack in the absence of Steven Fletcher.
KICK OFF: Wolves v Queens Park Rangers
Rangers travelled to Molineux in the back of a scintillating home display against Newcastle United. While the final piece of the jigsaw eluded them, the signs were positive for the fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pre-match talk centred around a power cut in the local area, with the club having to pull their resources in order to get pre-match preparations in order. While the pies were tepid at best the rousing reception for the players promised for an exciting spectacle at Molineux.
It was Rangers who started the brighter of the two sides with Shaun Derry going close in the early offing. An Adel Taarabt corner was cleared as far as Danny Gabbidon and the Welsh international saw his resultant cross meet the head of Derry.
The veteran midfielder saw his effort spectacularly saved by Hennessey who tipped the ball away wide to his left. There could be little argument that Rangers were the team on top and they took a deserved lead shortly before the ten-minute mark.
Shaun Wright-Phillips hared away down the right before sending in a low cross for Joey Barton who fairly clipped the ball beyond an unguarded Hennessey and fully compounded Wolves’ early misery.
GOAL: Wolves 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
The hosts were starting to grow restless and the backlash from the players was not forthcoming – if anything Rangers were growing stronger having scored the goal. Shortly afterwards a second goal was expertly crafted by the visitors.
More excellent football from the visiting side saw Taarabt with space to create, his resultant cross was cleared as far as Alejandro Faurlín and once again under little pressure the Argentinean curled home a sumptuous effort.
GOAL: Wolves 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
It was the least their performance had deserved as Faurlín’s excellently crafted effort fully epitomised the class and composure that ran through the visitors’ performance.
Wolves had an effort go close shortly afterwards when Karl Henry hit the post. Home supporters were busy deliriously berating a sniff of a spot kick when the midfielder clipped one off the left-hand upright and away to safety.
Rangers play meanwhile was cool, composed brimming with the confidence of an established side – considering the team had only played together for two fixtures this is a highly commendable trait.
Traoré in particular was looking highly accomplished in his full-back berth. Arsenal must be wondering what they’re missing as the young Senegalese international sauntered through the Wolves rearguard to produce a smart save from the over-worked Hennessey.
More excellent interplay saw Derry, Faurlín and Taarabt combine to find Wright-Phillips over the top. Heading left the enterprising midfielder clipped an effort with the outside of his right boot – the retreating Hennessey managed to claim with ease.
Wolves were offering little in the forward line and only an errant header from makeshift striker Stephen Ward. Dubbed ‘Superman’ by his manager midweek, he far from lived up to his name as he dollied a header over the bar.
Home pressure was fleeting and the mistakes started to creep into what is normally an organised line-up. The vociferous home crowd started to turn on their players and Rangers grew in influence.
Still the chances came for Rangers, Barton’s excellent slide rule pass saw Taarabt’s effort blocked at the last second by Elokobi before Ferdinand saw an effort cleared off the line from the resultant corner.
Joey Barton saw an effort fly just wide of the right-hand upright when well-placed on the edge of the area. It was truly rampant from the away side and only a last ditch tackle on Wright-Phillips prevented him from a one-on-one opportunity.
Wolves supporters booed their side from the field as any feel-good factor created by their positive start to the campaign was crumbling before them. This came as a vintage QPR display had main men Amit Bhatia and Tony Fernandes buzzing on twitter.
HALF TIME: Wolves 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
Such was the level of performance by both sides, Mick McCarthy withdrew Elokobi and the ineffectual Kightly, with Sam Vokes and Adlene Guediora coming on in their stead. the switch saw Ward revert to his natural left-back position.
Understandably McCarthy appeared to have lit a fire under his charges as they looked to improve dramatically. A Roger Johnson header was all they could offer in the early exchange, a chance that went awry for the home side.
The two sides seemed to be cancelling each other out – Wolves seemingly happy to take a breather and compose themselves while QPR were searching predominantly on the counter-attack.
A competitive edge began to work its way into the encounter with Barton’s role looking more and more influential while Derry rolled back the years to help dominate the midfield alongside the stunning Faurlín.
The latter – the cultured Argentine – exhumed class and poise as he rarely relented on possession. It was the pressure and tackling for which Wolves were previously famed, which became their achilles heel on the day.
Notably Berra and Johnson appeared rabbits in the headlight as Rangers’ brightest tested them at every turn with tremendous levels of work-rate when they were without the ball. The committed nature was epitomised by the defensive unit which gave Paddy Kenny relatively little to be troubled with.
Stephen Hunt’s introduction drew the greatest cheer of the day, only for the home supporters to turn immediately on their manager at the subsequent withdrawal of Jarvis – who in fairness was a virtual spectator throughout.
Jay Bothroyd had played a solid if unspectacular role in the Rangers line-up, winning a lot of aerial challenges with the aforementioned back-line. He was withdrawn at the expense of DJ Campbell who yet again had a bit part role to impress Neil Warnock.
Tommy Smith then took to the field as Taarabt once again did his reputation no harm. Smith and Campbell looked sharp from the off – key to impress once more. Gabbidon was forced to limp off with Fitz Hall becoming the third substitute in quick succession.
It mattered not a jot as Rangers killed the game off with a well-crafted third. It was stunning in its simplicity as Traoré sauntered beyond two players before clipping back for DJ Campbell – the striker slid home the deserved third.
GOAL: Wolves 0-3 Queens Park Rangers
The R’s had truly done justice to their advantage as the home crowd began departing with a little over five minutes remaining. As the stands started to empty, the visiting fans grew in voice.
Frustrated by his grip on the fixture, Henry lashed out with an outlandish challenge on Barton. For some reason this went unseen by the linesman and sparked a string of disappointing scenes.
Firstly Barton and the Wolves supporters exchanged unpleasantries before Ferdinand was booked for his protestations. There was plenty of niggle in the air but this was soon tempered by the final whistle.
Frustration turned to elation when the final whistle sounded, players celebrated with supporters and the R’s could be proud of a job well done. Boding well for future fixtures, Rangers were truly dominant and deserved a much-needed three points.
FINAL WHISTLE: Wolves 0-3 Queens Park Rangers
Hennessey, Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Elokobi (Guedioura 46), Kightly (Vokes 46), Henry, O’Hara, Jarvis (Hunt 74), Ward, Doyle
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Kenny, Derry, Gabbidon (Hall 84), Taarabt, Bothroyd (Campbell 74), Faurlin, Traore, Barton, Young, Wright-Phillips, Ferdinand.