QPR were all but relegated after crashing to a 2-0 defeat at home at the hands of Stoke City.
A year ago Harry Redknapp was on the verge of becoming England manager but despite his side dominating the game for long periods, he will be left contemplating life in the Championship as a goal from Peter Crouch against his old club late in the first half and a re-taken Jon Walters penalty in the second half settled matters.
Only a mathematical miracle can save QPR now and they must win every game and hope results elsewhere work out. For Tony Pulis’s Stoke, the result moves them closer to Premiership survival as his side ended a dismal run and avoided their worst ever run of seven consecutive away defeats.
QPR made five changes after the 2-0 defeat at Everton and created enough opportunities to be out of sight by the break but for some poor finishing, decent saves and horrendous free kicks.
Aside from an Adel Taarabt shot in the opening seconds that whistled over Asmir Begovic’s left angle, Stoke started the better. Charlie Adam set Cameron Jerome free in the box but the striker tries to work it back onto his favoured right boot instead of letting fly with his left and the chance dissipated. Jerome squandered another great chance only a minute later, glancing his header wide from Ryan Shotton’s pinpoint cross when he surely should have called Robert Green into action at the very least.
Aside from those early moments, the half belonged to QPR and chances came and went. Taarabt looped a free kick just over the bar after being fouled and Begovic was twice down well to save from the lively Loic Remy before the same player flashed a curling first time shot just wide.
Begovic again needed to be alert to deny Taarabt yet again from the free kick and moments later QPR almost had a penalty, Glenn Whelan bringing down Taarabt right on the edge of the box following a neat 1-2 with Remy. But alas QPR could not convert into that precious goal, Remy blasting into the wall before Taarabt fired over the rebound.
Having squandered a hatful of chances, you got the feeling that it was going to come back and bite Redknapp’s men and so it transpired minutes before the interval after great work from Wilson set Jerome away down the left and his cross was perfectly measured for Crouch to slot past Green from a yard out.
Despite the enormity of the task facing QPR, the goal seemed to take the fight out of them and they were a pale imitation of the side that took the fight to Stoke in the opening half. Redknapp brought on Jamie Mackie for the injured Andros Townsend and Jay Boothroyd for Taarabt but it was Remy who remained unquestionably QPR’s most dangerous player. He briefly threatened a revival but Begovic again saved well from his neat turn and shot in the box. Begovic was again on hand with a magnificent save to deny Stephane Mbia although the flag was already up for offside.
That was as good as it would get for the home side and despite enjoying an amazing stat of 23 goal attempts to Stoke’s nine, a silly foul from Clint Hill on Crouch in the box put the final nail in the coffin, Hill dragging back his man after Robert Huth had clattered a header against the upright. Up stepped an over eager Walters to lash the ball home before referee Chris Foy had time to put the whistle to his lips. But he made no mistake at the second time of asking to put the game and almost certainly Premiership survival beyond QPR.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Loic Remy (QPR) - One man who really didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Ran his socks off for his team for the full 94 minutes and created chances that should have been converted.
QPR: Green 6, Bosingwa 6, Samba 6, Hill 5, Ben Haim 6, Townsend 6, Mbia 6, Derry 5, Hoilett 7, Taarabt 7, Remy 8. Subs: Mackie 6, Bothroyd 6.
STOKE: Begovic 7, Huth 7, Whelan 6, Wilson 6, N’Zonzi 6, Adam 6, Shawcross 6, Walters 7, Crouch 7, Shotton 6, Jerome 6. Subs: Whitehead 6, Wilkinson 6, Cameron 6.