Premier League - Fulham win at 10-man QPR

Sat, 25 Feb 13:03:00 2012

Pavel Pogrebnyak continued his good start to life at Fulham as his goal gave them a 1-0 win at West London rivals Queens Park Rangers, who went down to 10 men for the fifth time this season.

QPR 0 Fulham 1

The Russia striker, who scored on his debut against Stoke, rolled home a cool finish after a lovely assist from Moussa Dembele in the seventh minute as former Whites boss Mark Hughes endured a torrid afternoon against the team he ditched in the summer.

Torrid because, in addition to defeat, QPR debutant Samba Diakite was sent off after making a series of poor tackles, leaving his side a man light for an hour; furthermore Bobby Zamora - the striker Hughes signed from Fulham in January - was indifferent, failing to test Mark Schwarzer as he toiled for much of the game

After an entertaining start the match drifted into a forgettable affair with Fulham operating negatively, mindful of their poor away record, and QPR unable to overcome their manpower issue. Indeed, it was only Fulham's second win on the road in 13 Premier League trips this season and their first double of the campaign having won 6-0 at Craven Cottage.

The result means Fulham climb a place to 11th ahead of Swansea, who play on Sunday; QPR lie one point above the drop zone and will hope Manchester City beat Blackburn later, lest they be dragged into the bottom three.

The highlight of an enthralling first-half was Pogrebnyak’s fine goal - his second in two matches for Fulham - but it was marred by a red card for on-loan Nancy midfielder Diakite, shown two yellow cards after making a seemingly endless stream of rash tackles in just over half an hour.

His 33rd-minute dismissal was a shame for the neutral, as until then it had been an open, entertaining match.

Fulham had the ball in the back of the net on four minutes, but Andy Johnson was fractionally offside when he met John Arne Riise’s cross with a fine header.

Both sides traded attacks at will, with the visitors taking the lead on seven minutes in some style.

It was created by Dembele, who played an audacious back-heeled through-ball to Pogrebnyak, who held his run perfectly before delaying his finish as Paddy Kenny dropped to the turf, sliding the ball home from an angle.

Clint Dempsey put just wide after combing with Bryan Ruiz, while Pogrebynak crossed straight to Kenny with Dempsey waiting for a tap-in after the Russian sprung the offside trap.

QPR played their part too but were slightly blunter up front as Jamie Mackie and Zamora - back at his old club for the first time - toiled somewhat while their team-mates saw plenty of the ball and had a few good chances.

Pogrebnyak - who was putting himself about all over the park - proved an all-action hero as his goal-line clearance kept out what would have been an own-goal from Brede Hangeland.

Shaun Wright-Phillips’s low drive was kept out by Schwarzer, who subsequently denied Zamora a goal against his former club with a spread-eagled save: Adel Taarabt put wide from the rebound but the flag had since gone up for offside.

Schwarzer was forced into action again as, after several wayward efforts, Taarabt found his range with a low drive that the Australian keeper palmed wide.

Aside from a low drive from Danny Murphy that Kenny kept out, the tide was starting to turn in QPR’s favour - but Diakite, who joined in January but was away with Mali at the African Cup of Nations - then got himself sent off.

It was not if he had not been warned: he was spoken to by referee Phil Dowd early on, made more fouls, was booked, made two more poor tackles and was spoken to again before his lunge on Ruiz on 33 minutes, his head in his hands and Hughes furious as his new signing walked to an early bath.

Initially QPR rallied well, Joey Barton leading most charges and putting high and wide after meeting a Nedum Onuoha cross with a half-volley.

After half-time the visitors initially used the extra man to good effect as they dominated possession in swarming attacks.

The hosts were not totally out of it: some promising counters stalled thanks to poor final balls from Taarabt in particular, while Mackie drilled a shot just wide after Taarabt finally got his pass right.

And getting into the final quarter of the match QPR started to have more possession as Fulham appeared to retreat into themselves as they have often done when leading this season.

But as the first half laid on a feast of opportunity, the second was a fast of sorts as both keepers were largely untested.

Indeed it was a dirge - the onus should have been for the 11 men of Fulham to look for a second but QPR were beckoned on in the latter stages and they really should have equalised when, on 83 minutes, Wright-Phillips somehow put wide after Taarabt’s fine pass sent him clean through.

Despite the numerical advantage the Whites, wearing black, were desperately clinging on to a rare away win.

They responded to their submissive status by taking more of an initiative in the closing minutes, and it appeared to work as they held possession and almost scored a late second when substitute Dickson Etuhu put wide after running from his own half.

By the end they were in control, hanging on for a rare away victory that puts them 12 points clear of relegation and just six shy of Liverpool in seventh.

Reda Maher - @Reda_Eurosport / Eurosport

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