Premier League - Helguson brace gives QPR victory

Sat, 19 Nov 16:56:00 2011

A brace from Heidar Helguson gave Queens Park Rangers a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Stoke City in a full-blooded Premier League encounter at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke 2 QPR 3

Jonathan Walters gave Stoke an early lead, but Helguson levelled for the visitors before defender Luke Young struck on the stroke of half-time to give Rangers the lead before the break.

Helguson stunned the hosts once more within 10 minutes of the restart and had another goal disallowed, before Ryan Shawcross reduced the deficit just after the hour mark, but QPR clung on to claim a crucial three points with Stoke left furious as they were denied a blatant penalty late on.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis made five changes to his side as beleaguered goalkeeper Asmir Begovic dropped to the bench with Thomas Sorensen taking his place. Fit-again pair Matthew Etherington and skipper Shawcross were restored to the side, while Rangers striker Jay Bothroyd was not even named as a substitute with Clint Hill promoted.

The moustachioed ranks of Stoke dominated the early stages and forced their visitors under the cosh, with Jonathan Walters giving his side a deserved lead in the eighth minute with a clinical finish from Peter Crouch's incisive through ball with Anton Ferdinand caught horribly out of position.

Stoke could have quite easily doubled their lead just seven minutes later as Crouch bundled his way into the QPR box and stabbed a snap shot on target, but keeper Paddy Kenny dived at the striker's feet to smother the ball superbly and keep the hosts at bay.

Warnock's side slowly began to establish themselves with a sustained spell of possession, and in the 22nd minute the visitors were level: slick build-up play culminated in a pinpoint cross from Armand Traore, which Helguson met with a firm header into the far corner of the net. The Icelander has now scored in four of his five Premier League starts this season.

Pulis was forced to implore his players to calm down following a spate of crude or clumsy challenges, and the Stoke boss was apoplectic with rage after his side switched off to concede a second goal on the stroke of half-time.

The purposeful Shaun Wright-Phillips hurtled down the right and slipped a precise pass into the path Jamie Mackie, who cut the ball back for the opportunistic Young, and the defender proceeded to coolly lift the ball into the roof of the net.

Immediately, Stoke looked full of urgency and purpose after having no doubt received a rollicking from their manager at the break, but neither Pulis nor Warnock deemed it necessary to make a change.

Pulis was left to bemoan more shoddy defending in the 54th minute as another stupendous cross came in from the left, this time from Barton, and Helguson stole in at the back post to stab the ball home from close range and give his side a two-goal cushion.

Helguson thought he had clinched his hat-trick three minutes later after he ghosted into the box once more to turn the ball home from close range after Wright-Phillips struck a low shot against the near post, but the offside flag brought his celebrations to an abrupt end.

Pulis was poised to react with a positive double change as Kenwyne Jones and Ricardo Fuller prepared themselves on the touchline, but the hosts reduced the deficit before the pair entered the fray.

A devilish corner was whipped over by Jermaine Pennant from the right, which Crouch met with a glancing header to enable Shawcross to promptly head beyond the helpless Kenny to the delight of the vociferous home support.

Jones and Fuller were both duly introduced as Pulis sought an elusive third goal, but the match became increasingly scrappy and fragmented as QPR defended stoutly and tempers flared.

The Stoke players and staff were left incandescent with rage as Delap launched a long throw into the QPR box and absolute carnage ensued in the box and Joey Barton appeared to hack down Robert Huth with referee Mike Jones inexplicably failing to award a penalty.

While the hosts were left to lambast the referee at full-time, Rangers celebrated a victory which lifts Warnock's side up to ninth place in the Premier League table with Stoke left just three points off the relegation zone.

Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter @danquarrell / Eurosport

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