Mark Hughes has endured torrid misfortune since taking over as Queens Park Rangers manager from Neil Warnock in January. The red cards issued to both new signings Djibril Cissé and Samba Diakité were a blow to the QPR boss’ master plan for avoiding relegation. And the home side seemed destined for an eighth straight defeat at Loftus Road against Liverpool – but a remarkable 13-minute comeback courtesy of goals from veteran defender Shaun Derry, Cissé, and substitute Jamie Mackie secured a vital three points and revived QPR’s much maligned form. The result moved the Loftus Road outfit two points clear of the drop zone and to within two points of Blackburn Rovers in 16th. Hughes has backed his squad to start delivering, insisting the prospect of facing the league’s bigger sides in a difficult run-in will not faze his players – and the Rangers boss will be desperate to see a repeat of Wednesday night’s battling display in their testing forthcoming fixtures.
It’s been a common theme of Liverpool’s season – large spells of domination against the league’s so-called lesser sides, but an inability to convert chances into goals has cost the Anfield outfit. The Reds dominated the opening half and finally made the breakthrough after centre-half Sebastián Coates displayed phenomenal athleticism to fire an audacious over-head kick past QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. Liverpool continued to press as both Steven Gerrard and Luis Suárez came close to extending the away side’s lead. The Uruguayan’s quick-feet and imaginative skill helped manufacture enough space to round two QPR defenders and smash an effort against the post, with Dirk Kuyt on-hand to convert the rebound from close-range. Victory assured? Not quite. QPR managed to prise a valuable three points from the Merseysiders’ grip, as Dalglish’s team were made to pay for converting just two of their 11 shots on target. Gerrard and Suárez have provided Liverpool with some much-needed creativity, but Dalglish needs a proven goal scorer to finish his attacking set – and Andy Carroll isn’t the answer.
QPR lacked invention against Liverpool for the first 77 minutes, and despite significant investment in the squad over the course of the season, the London outfit have struggled to find the net on a consistent basis. Hughes’ shrewd signing of Cissé appeared to be the final piece in the QPR puzzle, and the French striker had made an immediate impact with a goal against Aston Villa, before his sending off against Wolverhampton Wanderers led to a three-game suspension. Cisse was Rangers’ most dangerous outlet against the Reds, but until a frenzied final 10 minutes, his night looked set to end in frustration. Perhaps eager to make a point to his former employers, his movement ensured Liverpool’s defenders had to remain alert, and the former Auxurre forward was rewarded for his endeavour, scoring the equaliser in the 86th minute. His goals that could prove vital in QPR’s battle for survival.
When Rafael Benítez brought Kuyt to Liverpool in 2006, it was hoped the Dutch forward would reproduce his prolific form for Feyenoord in the Eredivisie – he had netted 71 times in 101 games. The 31-year-old failed to forge a reputation as a potent finisher in England but he became a vital cog in Benítez’s Liverpool side that came so close to winning the Premier League title in 2009. His ability to score goals at crucial points in games endeared Kuyt to the Reds supporters. On a night of great personal significance, he marked his 200th league appearance for Liverpool with a 70th-minute strike which appeared to have wrapped up a valuable three points for the visitors. But QPR’s valiant response spoiled the Dutchman’s night, his 51st league goal rendered inconsequential.
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