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Premier League

  • 2 January 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Loftus Road Stadium, London
  • Referee: N. Swarbrick
  • • Attendance: 18033

QPR 1-2 Norwich City: Joey Barton red card proves costly as struggling hosts fail to win for eighth successive game

QPR 1-2 Norwich City: Joey Barton red card proves costly as struggling hosts fail to win for eighth successive game

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The captain opened the scoring at Loftus Road, but was dismissed soon after for violent conduct, as Pilkington and Morison secured a deserved away victory for Paul Lambert

QPR captain Joey Barton was sent off in the first half of their Premier League loss to Norwich after scoring the opening goal in their 2-1 defeat.

Goals from Anthony Pilkington and Steve Morison sealed the victory for the visitors, but the hosts will question both the referee's performance and what might have been if their skipper had not been ejected from the field.

The home support would have to wait for their first taste of on-loan Manchester United striker Federico Macheda, who was named among the substitutes by Neil Warnock.

Heidar Helguson reclaimed his role as the loan striker following his one-year contract extension, signed just before the New Year, with the forward among one of five changes made to the team who suffered a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

For Norwich, Simeon Jackson earned a starting role following his weekend heroics against Fulham, as he snatched a point for the Canaries with their only goal of the game, while Simon Lappin was handed his first Premier League start.

The match started slowly, and the visitors looked to be the ones settling well initially, but they went behind in the 11th minute with Barton finding the back of the net.

A simple pass over the top for Jamie Mackie to run onto and cross was all it took to undo the Norwich defence. His ball in behind found Barton running in from the wing as the ex-Newcastle man rifled past John Ruddy.

The visitors remained on the front foot for a large patch of the first half, but failed in their attempts to test Paddy Kenny, while for the hosts, Adel Taarabt was in his element, keeping the ball with some dazzling skills.

Norwich's first real chance of the match came and went just after the half-hour mark as Jackson failed to make a proper connection with Elliot Bennett's cross, with the ball rolling harmlessly wide of Kenny's left-hand post.

The match had been threatening to boil over for some time before it eventually did, and it was Barton again who was at the centre of the controversy.

              Same dog, old tricks? | Barton found himself amongst controversy again

The QPR skipper was caught after passing the ball by Lappin, and while the players jostled in the follow up, he appeared to aim a headbutt at Norwich's Johnson, and after referee Neil Swarbrick consulted his linesman, Barton was dismissed for violent conduct.

The misery was compounded for QPR minutes later when Pilkington found the bottom corner with a rasping drive from just outside the box following some good build up play from the Canaries.

The away fans were certainly the happier supporters at the break, with a rasping set of boos from the home section aimed at the referee and his assistants as they left the field.

Warnock responded at half-time by withdrawing Mackie for Shaun Wright-Phillips and pushing Taarabt wide on the left. The change almost brought a goal in the opening minute of the half, with the winger forcing a save from Ruddy low to his right.

The away stopper was again forced into action minutes later as Taarabt clipped a free-kick over the wall and towards the corner; the 'keeper was equal to it though, at full stretch to push the ball onto the post with a fine save.

Jackson then forced a stop from Kenny at the other end, drilling a shot towards the bottom corner that the goalkeeper did well to get down to.

Norwich were undoubtedly the team on the up, and a triple substitution and subsequent switch to a 3-4-3 formation helped to make them more potent, with Morison replacing Holt for some added mobility.

The changes paid off when they finally took the lead in the 83rd minute. Substitute Wes Hoolahan put in a fine cross from the left to the back post, and Pilkington's knock down left Morison with the easy task of knocking the ball home from six yards out.

On the balance of play, it was a deserved three points for the visitors, though the home side will be wondering what might have been if their captain had not once again succumb to controversy.
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