QPR click back into gear at Rovers' expense - Report
Sunday, 6th Oct 2019 12:03 by Clive Whittingham
QPR recovered from consecutive defeats and beat Blackburn for the first time in 20 years at Loftus Road on Saturday, with four goals from four different goalscorers.
For a little while there, it looked like every QPR Blackburn game you’d ever been to.
There was a short corner, and a blocked shot from Ryan Manning. There was an early yellow card for Corry Evans after a long advantage – referee Simon Hooper showing Manchester’s Matt Donohue how that rule is supposed to work after his nonsense on Wednesday. Greg Cunningham, on loan from Cardiff, was replaced injured after a quarter of an hour. There was a brave header from Angel Rangel and Liam Kelly came charging through a panicked penalty area to sort things out on his home league debut.
But that really was about it for half an hour of football. QPR, so dominant in possession in all their games this season, had decided to sit off Rovers a little and let them have the ball in their own half. The visitors had Joe Rothwell pulling strings and Sam Gallagher on the bench ready to come on and score against Rangers for the fourth time in six meetings.
Not only do the R’s not like playing Blackburn, no wins in 20 years, but they’re not even able to lose to them in an entertaining way. They’ve scored more than once in a game against them just twice in 15 meetings, and only took one point from those two. Dignitas have been known to use videos of these two playing each other. It is, simply, one of those things, and for all the world it looked like it was going to be one of those things all over again. Maybe that Saturday afternoon trip to Ikea wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
What’s happened Rodney, you’re the one with the GCE’s? They’ve come alive that’s what’s happened. Thirty minutes gone, good possession around the edge of the Blackburn area, ball absolutely crying out to be played wide to the left for ages before it eventually got there with first Chair and then the rampaging Ryan Manning who delivered a wonderful cross to the back post for Bright Osayi-Samuel to head down and Nahki Wells to dispatch into the corner. Thank you please.
Now, after two quick defeats without scoring a goal, including a faith sapping loss at Cardiff in which Warburton’s team held three quarters of the possession, some confidence started to course. The ball started to zip, the tackles started to snap, the fire started to roar. Chair was darting this way and that, surely knocking on the door of 100% pass completion, dragging Blackburn defenders into places they didn’t want to go and leaving behind immaculate service and acres of space for Ebere Eze to revel in. Revel he did. The added stability of the extra midfielder – Cameron joining Scowen at the base of a 4-2-3-1 and both producing their best performances of the season – suited the players ahead of it. Chair teed up Osayi-Samuel who blasted over.
Blackburn had barely threatened. What little joy they’d had trying to catch Manning out with crossfield passes towards Adam Armstrong negated by the Irish left back’s powers of recovery in the tackle. The ineffective Danny Graham was removed at half time by Tony Mowbray – at least he’s only got to go back to Sunbury, one for the oldies there – and replaced by one of the summer’s more eye-catching new arrivals Lewis Holtby. Armstrong moved to the centre and the visitors emerged with renewed purpose looking for an equaliser. But they were about to be caught in a storm.
Manning on the charge, into Chair, back out to Manning, through to Eze, round Williams’ weak tackle, ball in the back of the net. Goalkeeper Walton a mere spectator. That’s how you play football. Quick, incisive, single touch, crisp finish. I love that goal so much I want to have sex with it.
It’s that time of the show again where you have the chance of a consolation prize with Virgo’s trick shot. Great, big, sweeping nonsense of a corner, all the way over and out of the penalty area for Yoann Barbet to stride onto fully 40 yards out and meet with a first time full volley that disappeared off towards what used to be Television Centre. They’ll get that right one day and win the tea maid, and when they do we’ll declare a national holiday. Boys having fun.
Of course, the other thing Barbet likes to do very much is concede penalties. For all of QPR’s excellence in the early part of the second half, they were still typically open at the back and had a let off before the hour when Williams found the net but was denied by an offside flag. Warning not heeded, within a minute Bradley Dack was scything through the heart of the defence towards the goal and the Barbinger of Doom honed into view with a trademark lunging tackle which was one of the easier penalties referee Simon Hooper has had to judge in his career. Dack scored with consummate ease, doing Kelly all ends up. It was the fifth penalty Rangers have conceded from in league and cup this year, the most in the Championship, and three of them have been given away by Barbet. I’m starting to come round to the idea of a hard Brexit.
No matter, when you’re playing Keegan-ball you just carry on regardless and re-establish the lead off the kick off. Excellent, patient, probing possession around the edge of the penalty box, a 16-pass move with Scowen at its heart – so pleased for him after a difficult start to his year. Eventually Rovers opened up, the former Barnsley midfielder found Osayi-Samuel at the near post and he shielded the ball and turned with his first touch then scored with his second. He was rewarded with first use of the bath water. Mark Warburton had decided another striker was required. On came Jordan Hugill. Hot nonsense.
Stewart Downing had two shots blocked and Dack stuck a header over the bar. Cameron and Bell added yellow cards to their teams’ totals. Ilias Chair’s early exit for Marc Pugh afforded him the pleasure of a lap of honour under the new substitution rules, high fives and signing autographs the whole way around. Eze flicked a ball around the corner for Hugill to very, very, very slowly run all the way around the side of the Rovers defence and into the clear space beyond but couldn’t produce a finish at the end of all that considerable effort. It was like watching two HGVs try and overtake on the A1.
Just another QPR Blackburn game? Who said that? Not me, never believed it. Manning’s cross for Hugill to head in the fourth was delicious, the finish superb back across the goalkeeper planting him to the spot. Still time for another Blackburn goal, of course, from Armstrong after a good turn by Dack, and within two minutes of that there was a goalmouth scramble that had Kelly looking slightly nervous. Could have been 4-3 for five minutes of stoppage time and then who knows what? Instead, at 4-2, Rangers were able to see it out with Manning booked for obstructing a restart and Hugill and Williams both carded for separate horror tackles in the same minute.
Talk about the defending if you want, but do it quietly over there away from me. There'll be more than enough opportunities, like Wednesday, to dissect that. On days like this, when we pass the ball and attack in this manner, it really doesn’t matter. It’ll catch us out, as it did at Cardiff, and it’ll hold us back over the course of the season, but this was one of the days to enjoy. The team looked better balanced in the 4-2-3-1, several players had their best games of the season, and among the many highlights was Manning’s superb attacking performance from left back, the combination of Eze and Chair pulling Rovers apart, and a triumphant return to form for Josh Scowen. Blackburn had few answers, but then not many teams at this level will have if we can maintain the level we played at for the final hour of this game.
Riotous stuff, tremendously entertaining, a fantastic response to two defeats and a perfect way to sign off for the international break.
QPR: Kelly 6; Rangel 7, Leistner 7, Barbet 6, Manning 8; Cameron 7, Scowen 8; Osayi-Samuel 7 (Hugill 61, 7), Eze 8, Chair 8 (Pugh 72, 6); Wells 7 (Mlakar 82, -)
Subs not used: Lumley, Kane, Wallace, Ball
Goals: Wells 30 (assisted Osayi-Samuel, pre-assist Manning), Eze 49 (assisted Manning), Osayi-Samuel 60 (assisted Scowen), Hugill 77 (assisted Manning)
Bookings: Barbet 56 (foul), Cameron 65 (foul), Manning 90+1 (delaying restart), Hugill 90+2 (foul)
Blackburn: Walton 5; Bennett 5, Lenihan 5 (Adarabioyo 67, 5), Williams 5, Cunningham 5 (Bell 17, 5); Evans 6, Rothwell 8; Armstrong 6, Dack 7, Downing 6; Graham 5 (Holtby 46, 6)
Subs not used: Johnson, Gallagher, Samuel, Leutwiler
Goals: Dack 57 (penalty, won Dack), Armstrong 86 (assisted Bennett)
Bookings: Evans 6 (foul), Lenihan 45+1 (foul), Bell 58 (foul), Williams 90+2 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Ryan Manning 8 I had a really hard time picking this. I came away from the game sure it was Chair, who’s not only so utterly faultless and wonderfully creative when he has possession of the ball, but also moves intelligently without creating space for other – big part of the reason Eze looks so good at the moment. Then there was Eze himself, brilliant and a goalscorer, and Josh Scowen, who was a significant upgrade on Ball at the base of midfield and capped an all action display with an assist. But Manning was as good as all of them, and had a big hand in three goals which just nudges him over the edge for me.
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 8 Lot of bookings, eight in total, in a not particularly dirty game. But going through them, they were all the correct decision, and he got the penalty right as well which was the big decision in that match. Overall I thought he contributed to the spectacle and was pretty good.
Attendance – 13, 560 (1,000 Blackburn approx.)
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Pictures – Action Images
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