Premier League - Everton held as QPR end run of defeats

Sat, 03 Mar 16:51:00 2012

QPR took a valuable point to end three Premier League games without a win, drawing 1-1 at home to mid-table Everton.

QPR 1 Everton 1

Royston Drenthe opened the scoring for Everton with a bullet of a shot on 31 minutes, only for Bobby Zamora to level five minutes later with a header from a corner.

Both sides struck the woodwork, with Akos Buzsaky missing the simplest of chances from inside the six-yard with the goal gaping late in the first half.

The point keeps QPR ahead of Blackburn on goal difference after Rovers equalised late on against Aston Villa, while the two teams below them - Bolton and Wigan - are now two points behind after losing.

Everton, who left recent signing from Glaswegian club Rangers Nikica Jelavic on the bench, began the match brightly: on four minutes Tim Cahill hooked for goal from inside the box and the effort beat Paddy Kenny but came back off the bar.

QPR had a couple of chances in the opening quarter of an hour, with Clint Hill diverting a poor Buzsaky volley wide then the same defender arriving quickly to head a free-kick wide from inside the six-yard box.

Mark Hughes has endured his worst start in charge of a Premier League club, with only four points from his first six games prior to today. He has blamed his players for picking up too many red cards of late.

He will have been directly furious with the referee though on 20 minutes when Kevin Friend blew for a home free-kick just outside the box. Before he was fouled, Shaun Wright-Phillips had passed to Zamora who put Adel Taarabt through on goal just when the whistle went.

Buzsaky, who was poor with a multitude of shots throughout the afternoon, went closest with this set-piece - his disguised curler across the wall was palmed away by the unsighted Tim Howard.

Johnny Heitinga should have found the net at the far post from a Leighton Baines free-kick but Hoops midfield stalwart Shaun Derry did enough to put him off and Paddy Kenny gratefully claimed.

Taarabt was at fault for the opening goal, turning blindly in midfield to allow Marouane Fellaini to tackle. Steven Pienaar picked the ball up and found Dutchman Drenthe, whose bouncing bomb from 25 yards crashed into the bottom corner.

The Moroccan was keen to make amends two minutes later when striking a free-kick that deflected off Phil Neville and dropped inches wide of the post with Howard beaten.

And soon after that the playmaker showed a lovely touch to nutmeg Neville on the byline and angle towards goal; a terrible scything foul from Drenthe right in front of owner Tony Fernandes - sitting with the fans in the first half - earned the free-kick that QPR scored from.

Buzsaky's delivery from the left was excellent, with Zamora rising at the near post to win the header. The ball went in off Howard.

Play was halted briefly late in the half when a squirrel entered the field of play and stood on the halfway line, twitching his little nose and looking away from an attacking Everton free-kick. No one sought to remove it, and so the players continued regardless.

Then a minute before the break Rangers hit the post twice. First Taarabt - who has had more shots than anyone else yet to score in the Premier League this season, with around 60 - curled a lovely low effort that came off the inside of the far post.

When Zamora collected the rebound on the other side of the goal, he played the ball back to the arriving Buzsaky, who contrived to finish against the foot of the other upright rather than into the bottom corner.

QPR looked the better of the sides in the second period, but neither was particularly fluent in midfield. Too often the home midfielders went for glory from distance, with disastrous results.

On 67 minutes Taarabt was again unfortunate. Having had a lucky break off Neville, he advanced into the box from the left and struck low just past the far post when perhaps the near-post top corner seemed more inviting.

And despite the introduction of Jelavic for his second Everton appearance just before that chance, that was as much as the second half offered in terms of goalmouth action.

QPR deserve the point, but should perhaps have taken all three after enjoying the better of the chances in an exciting opening 45 minutes.

Jonathan Symcox - on Twitter @Symco_Eurosport / Eurosport

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