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Premier League

  • 6 May 2012
  • • 14:00
  • • Loftus Road Stadium, London
  • Referee: A. Marriner
  • • Attendance: 17319
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QPR 1-0 Stoke City: Cisse nets dramatic late winner to haul Rangers away from drop zone

The Frenchman's goal in the dying moments sealed all three points for the Hoops and their chances of remaining in the top flight remain in their hands going into the last game

A goal in the dying moments from Djibril Cisse earned all three points for Queens Park Rangers as they narrowly beat Stoke City to keep their fate in the Premier League relegation battle in their own hands.

A late corner provided the in-form striker with a tap-in, after a poor showing from both sides in which neither created anything outstanding.

QPR were looking for a crucial win in their fight against relegation, with only goal difference keeping them out of the drop zone. They were pinning their hopes their good home form, winning their last four at Loftus Road, while taking advantage of the Potter’s poor away form this season, would help them secure a crucial three points.

Mark Hughes made only one change to the team which was thrashed 6-1 by west London rivals Chelsea, with Adel Taarabt returning from suspension to the starting line up in place of Cisse.

Stoke City enter their 58th game of the season with only one win in their last nine matches and hoping to end a gruelling season on a high. Tony Pulis made four changes to the side that drew to Everton midweek, with Asmir Begovic being replaced in goal by Thomas Sorensen. Glenn Whelen came in for Dean Whitebread, while Ricardo Fuller and Cameron Jerome started in place of Kenwyne Jones and Matthew Etherington.

The hosts began the game well, with Jamie Mackie attacking down the right from the off, pulling his cross back and providing a good chance for Taarabt, but the Moroccan couldn’t get on the end of it.

Moments late Jerome spurned a glorious opportunity to give Stoke an early lead. Peter Crouch flicked the ball into the striker’s path, but he snatched at his shot from eight yards out and sliced it wide.

Taarabt continued to look lively within the first quarter of an hour, winning a free-kick for his side after a nice piece of skill to evade Marc Wilson.

The former Tottenham player then took the set piece, which was heading for the bottom left-hand corner, if not for a very good save from Sorenson, who parried it out. Joey Barton almost latched on to the rebound, but instead of giving it to the unmarked Bobby Zamora in the box, he could only hit the side-netting.

Both teams were looking to attack within the first half-hour, but neither could retain possession for long enough to create anything substantial. The home side then had to defend against several Rory Delap throw-ins and Stoke set-pieces, but none yielded any clear cut chances.

The Hoops began to pile on the pressure, earning two more free-kicks courtesy of Taarabt who was looking the most likely to make the difference, but neither troubled the visitors' defence too much.

Barton than had a good effort from just outside the box, trying to place his shot beyond Sorensen, but the Denmark international was able to watch the ball head over the bar.

Zamora then won the ball from Matthew Upson high up the pitch after the defender was caught hesitating on the ball. The former Fulham man drove at the Stoke box and provided a delightful cross ti give Barton a free header, but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.

Just before the first half ended, a swift counter-attack from the home side almost broke the deadlock, with some nice interplay ending in Zamora rolling the ball into the path of Mackie, but Sorensen rushed out bravely to gather.

Stoke began the second half strongest, with Crouch having a free header in the box, however he couldn’t force a save from the keeper, completely missing the target. Minutes later, Ricardo Fuller had a superb curling effort, but his shot also sailed just wide of the far post.

Much like the first half both teams continued to attack and attempt to go ahead, but neither could create anything, with the defences standing tall for each side.

On the hour QPR had a free-kick from a promising position 20 yards out, with Taye Taiwo the taker, but the full-back could only drive the ball into the wall. The rebound fell to the Nigerian, but was also blocked.

Substitute Cisse had the best chance of the half, producing a fantastic save from Sorensen. The Frenchman got ahead of his marker to head towards goal, but the outstretched arm of the Danish keeper denied the striker from putting QPR in the lead going into the final ten minutes.

With only three minutes left of normal time, the January signing may have made his biggest contribution so far, scoring a crucial goal for QPR as he finished an easy tap-in from four yards out. Nedum Onuoha rose high to head on the incoming ball to the back post from the corner, and Cisse had an easy chance to finish.

Stoke rallied late on, but Rangers held on for what could prove to be a vital three points in the relegation battle.

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