Chelsea see red as QPR record famous victory – full match report
Monday, 24th Oct 2011 20:54 by Clive Whittingham
Against all odds QPR came out of a highly controversial West London derby on top in front of a raucous Loftus Road crowd on Sunday afternoon.
Modern football, we're told, is about money. The few teams that have it do well, the majority that don't bankrupt themselves trying to keep up. Football crowds now are made up of Korean tourists paying £60 a throw to come and see the players that have graced their television screens on the other side of the world. Prawn sandwiches have replaced pies, billionaire foreign airline owners sit in director's boxes once occupied by the local used car salesman or lifelong supporter made good and the old style loyal supporters now pick and choose their games as ticket prices rocket.
There is little to like about any of this, and so how reassuring it was to see football return to its roots for 90 minutes in West London on Sunday afternoon. Sure the ticket prices for QPR v Chelsea were extortionate, the directors box was a battle between the richest man in the UK and the richest man in Russia, and out on the pitch 21 millionaires and Clint Hill trotted around in cycling shorts on a pristine playing surface.
But on Sunday one of the world's best teams, player-for-player the most experienced side in the league, boasting a host of players who have performed on some of the toughest stages and situations in the game were rattled by 15,000 QPR fans shouting at them.
In the summer much was made of the perceived advantage QPR would gain through playing at Loftus Road. It's been 15 years since the ground last staged a Premiership match involving Rangers and almost a decade since Fulham shared here and the game has since moved on to the point where West Ham want to give up their perfectly adequate and atmospheric home to play in the vast open spaces of the Olympic Stadium. But with no home win this season, no home win since the beginning of April in fact, and teams as diverse as Aston Villa and Rochdale leaving W12 with positive results recently it seemed the strength of that weapon had been overplayed. Strangely, both QPR's wins prior to this game had actually come away from home.
The look on the faces of first Juan Mata and then Frank Lampard as they dared to try and take a Chelsea corner in front of the R block in the first half said it all. All the experience, all the money, all the ability, all the skill, all the attitude – but they don't like it up em Mr Mainwaring.
Perhaps too many games in front of people waving inflatable clapping sticks and claiming it counts as an atmosphere at Craven Cottage had lulled Chelsea into a false sense of derby security. If it had, the cobwebs were well and truly blown away during this pulsating and highly controversial encounter. This was a victory for good old fashioned hostility and proper football supporters as much as it was for the QPR players.
You could say the signs were there before kick off with Chelsea missing influential pair Fernando Torres and Ramires through suspension and injury respectively, had failed to keep a clean sheet in seven matches and they had won just one of their last six London derby games, but you'd be lying. They came into this match in electric form, scoring 18 goals in their last five matches which yielded four wins and one draw. Our fellow newly promoted sides Norwich and Swansea had already been vanquished by an aggregate score of 7-2 and they hadn’t lost to a side newly arrived from the Championship for ten years and 64 matches. For Torres came Drogba, all muscle and anger, while Ramires was replaced by Meireles.
Such strength in depth is a pipe dream to the likes of Queens Park Rangers. A muscle injury for left back Armand Traore meant he had to drop out at late notice – his absence had been a precursor to a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Fulham in a previous all-London clash so this was ominous news as it filtered through prior to kick off. Unlike at Craven Cottage Neil Warnock placed his faith in Clint Hill, a grizzly left back of Championship vintage hastily recalled from a loan at Nottingham Forest and thrust into the action to terrific effect. Danny Gabbidon's continued absence meant Fitz Hall, who'd struggled to cope with the meagre attack of a mediocre Blackburn side, continued alongside Anton Ferdinand, who spent most of the week on his sick bed, and Luke Young. Paddy Kenny started in goal.
Warnock rolled the dice further forwards as well. Adel Taarabt, who seems to share a PR agency with Mario Balotelli, won a recall at the expense of Jamie Mackie with Joey Barton, Alejandro Faurlin and Shaun Derry making up the midfield. Shaun Wright Phillips played wide of Heidar Helguson who occupied the lone striker role. After the hotch-potch mess against Blackburn where Barton and Derry seemed to be doing the same job Rangers had a much more rigid structure about them in this game and finally seemed to have realised that wonderful things happen when the ball is worked to Wright Phillips wide and early.
QPR were positive from the off Taarabt pepering the Chelsea area with a couple of early free kicks and Heidar Helguson heading well wide as a signal of early intent. At the Loft End, Daniel Sturridge cut in from the right flank attempting to make it five goals in as many games but dragged a shot wide.
Football, we know, can be a strange old game sometimes. Neil Warnock wanted Peter Crouch to lead his line this season but in the end settled for Jay Bothroyd. When the former Cardiff man failed to fire in the early games the boss was set to turn to DJ Campbell only for the gold-toothed front man to fracture a bone in his foot the day before he was due to return to the starting line up. Step forward Heidar Helguson – a wily 34-year-old Icelandic striker who has been there, seen it and won a free kick from it in his long and journeyman like career. I'm sure Jay Bothroyd afforded himself a wry smile when Helguson's cross dropped into the corner of the net last week – 17 minutes it took him to open his account for the season, Bothroyd is still waiting three months in.
No second invitation required.
Helguson v David Luiz and John Terry is a modern day heart-warming tale from the writers who brought you Leroy Griffiths v Marcel Dessaily. For all the intricacies of the modern game, and Warnock's QPR side, it was a goal right out the Championship manual of route one football that gave QPR the lead ten minutes into this match. Paddy Kenny, rotund and resplendent in yellow, launched a drop kick down the field which Helguson manoeuvred himself onto in the penalty area and then hit the deck under a moronic challenge from David Luiz. It seems that while your talented Brazilian centre back costs you £20m these days, the brain is an optional extra that Chelsea scrimped on. Did Helguson make the most of the push in the small of his back? Absolutely. The trick, as Luiz should know full well, is not to give him the opportunity.
The now traditional row between Adel Taarabt and everybody else over who was to take the crucial spot kick ended with Helguson stepping up and finding the top corner with a shot that Peter Cech in the Chelsea goal got a strong hand to and probably should have done better with.
A thing of pure beauty.
Too early? Perhaps. Chelsea seemed riled by the early set back but could only muster wild shots off target from long range from first Frank Lampard, then Ashley Cole and finally Didier Drogba while QPR more than matched them for workrate and endeavour with Shaun Wright Phillips willingness to work back and defend a particular highlight.
Much is said and written about Adel Taarabt, most of it unhelpful and much of it his own fault, but Neil Warnock may well resolve after this game that his partnership with Shaun Wright Phillips is worth having him on the field for more often than not. Their link up play against Newcastle on this ground earlier in the season was more than the still unbeaten Magpies could handle and although both have been quiet of late they combined wonderfully on the half hour to set up the second of three key moments in the first half.
Taarabt's through ball was out of the top drawer and Wright Phillips had the awareness to position himself inside Chelsea fullback Bosingwa and the pace to accelerate away from him. He was felled, quite clearly, on his way to goal – Chelsea appeals that John Terry was coming round to cover are ludicrous unless the use of high-powered motorcycles has suddenly been legalised for England international defenders in tough situations. Referee Chris Foy swooped in, awarded the free kick and sent Bosingwa off. The cheer from the Loft will have been heard in the Chelsea heartlands of Surrey and Sussex. Sadly Taarabt's salt rubbing exercise found only the hands of Cech as he curled the resulting free kick around the wall.
Bosingwa’s entry into the big book of schoolboy defending
Manager Andre Villas Boas reacted immediately, removing Sturridge and sending on Ivanovic to reconvene the defence. Chelsea were quite obviously rattled. They’d come into this fixture expecting just another game against an inferior side and suddenly found themselves a goal and a man down to a niggly, committed team in a raucous atmosphere. Juan Mata briefly visited the R Block corner of the ground for a set piece but quickly retreated and left it to Frank Lampard who was subjected to the sort of abuse normally reserved for sex offenders being removed from the magistrates' court in a prison van. Mata left the field before half time, citing a shoulder injury – a sensible lad, if a little cowardly.
Perhaps Andre Villas Boas' plan was to go in at half time, have a quick reminder of who everybody actually was, and then come out and return to business as usual. If it was, then a minute before the breakit had to be torn up and re-written. Drogba, completely dominated by Anton Ferdinand playing the game of his life, miscontrolled a ball on the QPR side of the halfway line and in a foolhardy attempt to retrieve it launched into a vile two footed lunge on Adel Taarabt. It could kindly be described as a striker's tackle. More accurately it was an obvious straight red card and for all Chelsea 's protestations Chris Foy had almost no option.
Drogba takes the long walk.
I can recall seeing QPR play against nine men on three separate occasions in my time following the club – Everton at home on Boxing Day 1992 when a comfortable 3-0 was suddenly turned into a nervy 3-2 by the numerically disadvantaged visitors before Rangers finally finished them off, against Wycombe at home in another Boxing Day clash a decade ago when lower league maniac Phil Prosser wreaked card havoc and QPR laboured to a 4-3 farce, and at Luton during the dark Vauxhall Motors days when Ian Holloway’s team had extra players for more than an hour but drew 0-0.
QPR, in their various guises, have never been very good against nine men because they constantly ignore the two fundamentals of doing it successfully. Firstly you have to maintain possession of the ball, secondly you have to station to pacy attackers as wide as they possibly can be right and left and feed them the ball regularly. The likes of Barton and Ferdinand will be remembered along with the banisters, Byrnes and Gallens of QPR v Chelsea history after Sunday but by God did the QPR team play some dumb football in the second half.
Possession was treated with outright contempt, passes were given away almost as if Rangers were being sponsored to do it - £100 for a charity of your choice for every lousy pass or stupid free kick conceded. In the first half Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright Phillips gave all the indications that they had the attributes and form to really rip into Chelsea but after half time their team mates starved them of the ball to the point where Neil Warnock removed them both. Taarabt skulked off down the tunnel after being replaced by Tommy Smith, Wright Phillips later made way for Jamie Mackie but still QPR made the nine men look like 12. Every time David Luiz crossed the halfway line with the ball at his feet it panicked the home side in a way that never should have been possible given the logistics of the situation. I wondered if the fresh legs and legendary work rate of Jamie Mackie may have helped earlier and thought it would have been an ideal time for a second try with Jay Bothroyd but was left wondering, and fretting, throughout a needlessly fraught second half.
The story of the game summed up in one image.
Chelsea reverted to a tight three man midfield set up with Anelka alone in attack and rarely did they look like a team with two less players. They peppered the QPR penalty box with crosses and shots in the first five minutes of the half with Kenny required to command his goal mouth and show expert handling to relieve the pressure. It was shaping up to be a long half.
That said, presentable chances came and went. Luke Young, highlighting the profit to be made from dwelling in wide areas, accelerated into the penalty are but dragged a poor right footed shot across the goal and wide. And Chelsea were by no means perfect, their indiscipline permeating every facet of their game throughout the second half. Mikel was shown a yellow card for a hack at Taarabt which gave Faurlin a shooting chance with a free kick but he could only find the Chelsea wall. Ivanovic took a turn at chopping the Moroccan down five minutes later and was booked, as was Luiz for tripped Ferdinand as he marauded forward from the back. Then, in a moment that only QPR could conjure, Taarabt was worked into a prime shooting position on the edge of the penalty area only to be tackled brilliantly by Luke Young. Farce.
There were cards too for Shaun Derry and Joey Barton who both fulfilled the dreams of many in the stands by kicking Frank Lampard but it was Chelsea drawing Chris Foy’s attention more often than not.
The Blues have conceded three of their nine goals this season from free kicks in wide areas and although QPR’s delivery in such situations has been poor this term they got one right fifteen minutes from time when Barton swung over to the back post and Heidar Helguson volleyed over when it seemed easier to score. For everything that the Icelandic striker brings to the QPR team, and his performances and goals record for Rangers speaks for themselves, he is still prone to the odd missed sitter.
They don’t like it up em Mr Mainwaring.
Chelsea's post match fury was directed almost entirely in the direction of the match officials – as you would expect from a side reduced to nine men and losing to a disputed penalty. But somewhere deep within the bowels of Stamford Bridge must be an acknowledgement that the discipline required of a team in this situation was almost completely lacking. John Terry became the latest Chelsea player booked when he got embroiled in an argument with Paddy Kenny who objected to being deliberately taken out after he'd claimed a high cross. Our former England captain, the son of a drug dealing father and a shoplifting mother, reduced to deliberately knocking a fat goalkeeper to the ground and forced after the game to deny he’d racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. This is England.
Elsewhere David Luiz continued his giant hairy wrecking ball act with an obvious elbow on Clint Hill as the pair waited for a loose ball to fall from the sky. Had Foy not already dismissed two visiting players I'm convinced Luiz, already booked remember, would have walked.
The giant hairy wrecking ball in action.
Chelsea will be fined £25,000 for totting up seven yellow cards and two reds in this match and they have little grounds for complaint in any of the nine cases. But the hackles of manager Andre Villas Boas (quite a young fella apparently) were justifiably raised by two quickfire penalty decisions that should have gone their way. First Frank Lampard, full of self pity and sporting the seemingly fixed expression of a man who believes he’s terribly hard done to, fell in the area under significant contact from Fitz Hall. The ball would probably have run through to Kenny anyway but that’s not strictly relevant, this looked like a penalty to me. As did Heidar Helguson’s overly familiar wrestle with David Luiz under a cross from the opposite flank minutes later. Again the Chelsea fans and players appealed, again Foy showed no interest – they have every right to feel aggrieved on both counts and Meireles was booked for his protests.
Lucky escape part one…
Frustration with the officials was no excuse for the appalling lack of sportsmanship on show ten minutes from time after QPR had kicked the ball out so that Shaun Derry could be treated and then replaced by Jamie Mackie. Chelsea, through Lampard, played on instead of returning the ball and then attacked to a cacophony of boos. There was some poetic justice in the fact that it was Lampard who inadvertently deflected Luiz’s goalbound bicycle kick over Kenny’s crossbar and one senses that the Metropolitan Police match commander was rather grateful that he did. Had that gone in they’d have been turning over cars and looting shops in Shepherds Bush for days.
When a Chelsea player inadvertently deflects a Chelsea shot over the bar you sense it might be your day. When Anelka plants a free header straight into Kenny’s arms from half a yard out with ten minutes remaining you know it is. The Frenchman took too long over a shot and lost the opportunity when racing through on Kenny’s goal as the clock ran down as well but by then belief was starting to course through the home ranks.
The sense that it was just QPR’s day didn’t stop a torturous five minutes of added time dragging by at a snail’s pace. At the death of it all Alejandro Faurlin gave Chelsea another chance to put a ball into the QPR penalty area with a foul wide on the right flank – game intelligence was not a feature of this match from either side. Chelsea sent giant goalkeeper Peter Cech forward and for one horrifying moment it looked like he was going to head home substitute Malouda’s cross at the back post but QPR cleared the ball away and suddenly, with the Loft End goal gaping, Joey Barton was racing away down the field with the ball at his feet. Only Ashley Cole stood between him and certain glory and in true Cole style he responded to the challenge with a studs up, two footed, deliberate, cynical hack at the Rangers man as he ran past.
Ashley Cole, a “wonderful man” according to Ray Wilkins.
Barton crashed to the earth leaving the already carded Cole facing the prospect of an increasingly crowded early bath but Foy took pity on him and blew for full time instead. Cole, reprieved, spent the immediate post match squaring up to any QPR player he could get within shouting distance of, adding further doubt to Ray Wilkins’ assertion during a commentary earlier this season that he is a “wonderful man”.
Still, in his defence, it had been at least two hours since his last cigarette so perhaps a little crankiness was to be expected. No doubt the arms of a Croydon hairdresser or the vibration setting on his mobile phone provided solace later in the evening. A shame that a second roof raising goal had been denied, a shame that we were denied the sight of Cole traipsing off with a suspension to come, but shame wasn't exactly the word on the lips of QPR fans after this one.
Faurlin celebrates a famous win with his manager.
They’d arrived as 9/1 underdogs and left as a new entry into QPR folklore. It was more in hope than expectation that we filed into the home of football at 4pm on Sunday, but as a wise match previewer said on Friday – it’s that faint hope that keeps us coming back. Occasionally, the rewards for faith are indescribably brilliant.
QPR: Kenny 7, Young 7, Ferdinand 9, Hall 8, Hill 8, Derry 7 (Mackie 81, -), Faurlin 7, Wright-Phillips 7, Barton 7, Taarabt 7 (Smith 61, 6), Helguson 8
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Orr, Bothroyd, Buzsaky, Puncheon
Booked: Derry (foul), Barton (foul)
Goals: Helguson 10 (penalty, won Helguson)
Chelsea: Cech 6, Bosingwa 5, Terry 6, Luiz 5, Cole 6, Mikel 6, Meireles 7 (Malouda 72, 6), Lampard 7, Sturridge 6 (Ivanovic 36, 6), Drogba 5, Mata 6 (Anelka 45, 7)
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Romeu, McEachran, Kalou
Sent Off: Bosingwa (33), Drogba (41)
Booked: Mikel (foul), Lampard (foul), Ivanovic (foul), Luiz (repetitive fouling), Meireles (dissent), Cole (foul), Terry (ungentlemanly conduct)
QPR Star Man – Anton Ferdinand 9 A player who apparently spent most of the week on his sick bed, but somebody who stood up to be counted at the heart of the QPR defence. Won every header, timed every tackle, and even found times to go on a few marauding runs down the field. As good a centre half display as you’ll see from anybody in the Premiership all season.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside) 5 Chelsea are clearly fuming with the officials, as you would expect them to be given the circumstances. I can’t imagine Neil Warnock and the QPR fans bemoaning their own ill-discipline had the roles been reversed – a witch hunt is more likely. Obviously as a QPR fan I’m very happy with the decisions Mr Foy made on Sunday and the three biggest ones of all I think he got right – the penalty was a penalty, the first red card was an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the Didier Drogba tackle was one out of the Alan Hutton house of horrors. But there were other big calls he got wrong. Having awarded Heidar Helguson a penalty it then seemed odd that he waved away appeals from first Lampard and then Luiz in very similar circumstances. Both looked like penalties to me. Similarly having sent off Drogba and Bosingwa correctly why was first Luiz and then right at the end Cole allowed to escape without reds when they clearly deserved them? I thought he deserved credit for being brave in the face of huge pressure and dissent but it’s impossible to mark a referee too highly when, in my opinion, four big decisions in the game were wrong.
Attendance: 18, 050 (3,100 Chelsea) Jamie Redknapp, clearly flustered by the treatment doled out to Cousin Frank, said afterwards that he hadn’t even realised this was much of a derby. We’ll leave a debate about his research skills aside for now but I presume that both he, and the Chelsea players who seemed surprised by what they found inside Loftus Road as well, know exactly what this fixture is all about now. Loftus Road was at its raucous, intimidating best and it will need to be so again for the similarly difficult home games we have coming up. The place was rocking.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
When Saturday Comes #35 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and the U’s have already given us a fantastic start to the weekend, with a stirring and well-deserved 2-1 victory at promotion-chasing Newport County. Yes, the Exiles had lost the previous three at home and are looking like they are going to bottle their chance for the play-offs, and yes with the U’s now safe technically we had little to play for, but don’t take anything away from this performance. If Wayne Brown is still being ‘interviewed’ for the full-time role as Colchester United manager, then last night was the equivalent of having an excellent incisive question of your own lined up for the interview panel.
When Saturday Comes #34 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and our Easter Bank Holiday programme is already underway, following a dismal 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park yesterday. It’s not so much the result that galls, in truth deep down I suspect we all thought it was going to be a difficult trip to get anything out of, it was the manner of that defeat. To say the U’s were lacklustre is a massive understatement – and it wasn’t as if it was down to Exeter City simply outplaying us, I didn’t think they were all that to be honest. I can cope with defeat, heaven knows the U’s have given me enough practice in recent years, but to go down without a whimper, relying on Man of the Match Sham to keep it from becoming a cricket score against an average Exeter City, was just dreadful.
When Saturday Comes #33 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and there was a time, not too long ago, when today’s game against the charmless Steve Evans and Stevenage was looking like it might be a relegation 6-pointer. Whilst we’re not out of the woods quite yet, back-to-back victories over Tranmere Rovers and Harrogate mean we go into this game knowing even if we were to slip up against Stevenage, we’ll still be 8pts plus goal difference ahead of them, and only five games left to play. Still, let’s not dwell on negatives, because three wins on the bounce will be the confidence-booster we’ll need ahead of the tough trip on Good Friday to St James’ Park.
Queens Park Rangers Polls
[ Vote here ]