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QPR 1-0 Tottenham: Taarabt scores winner & then sees red as Spurs miss chance to make up ground on Arsenal
One moment of brilliance from the Moroccan and some dogged defending saw the hosts record a vital win, despite being forced to hold out with 10 men toward the end
By Ross Jackson
An even first half saw little goalmouth action, yet the home side produced a touch of class to take the lead, with Adel Taarabt curling a sublime 25-yard free-kick into Brad Friedel’s bottom corner.
The second half was similarly void of quality as QPR defended doggedly to see out the 1-0 win, despite playing the last 15 minutes with 10 men following match-winner Taarabt’s second yellow card.
Mark Hughes opted to stick with the same starting XI beaten at West Brom a week ago, meaning Spurs old-boy Bobby Zamora retained his place as the lone striker, with Djibril Cisse handed a place on the bench upon his return from suspension.
For the visitors, Harry Redknapp made three changes to the side humbled at Wembley on Sunday, with Jermain Defoe chosen to spearhead the Spurs attack in the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor.
Meanwhile, Carlo Cudicini was replaced by Friedel, who made his 300th consecutive Premier League start, as Aaron Lennon dropped to the bench at the expense of Sandro.
The visitors enjoyed a lively start to the game keeping the ball well, but it was QPR who were posing the bigger goal threat, with Samba Diakite ghosting past two Spurs men before dragging his effort wide.
Spurs responded well to the early warning shot and Gareth Bale had a gilt-edged opportunity to open the scoring from Rafael van der Vaart’s corner, but the Welshman’s header was straight at Paddy Kenny who comfortably tipped it over.
An end-to-end battle ensued but it was the home side who produced a potentially knockout blow mid-way through the first-half.
After challenging with Zamora, Sandro was penalised by referee Mark Clattenburg for what seemed to be a soft handball. Former Spurs man Taarabt stepped up to sweep a sublime curling effort into Friedel’s bottom right-hand corner, notching his second Premier League goal of the season and sending the Loftus Road faithful into raptures.
Both teams began to cancel each other out as the half wore on, as the hosts entered the half-time break a goal to the good.
Redknapp introduced Lennon at the break in place of Sandro in an attempt to liven up the midfield, but it was QPR who started the brighter of the two. Diakite again produced a surging run through the heart of the Spurs defence, but he prodded wide of the post under pressure from Ledley King.
Without the presence of Adebayor upfront the visitors seemed to lack a plan B against a determined 5-man midfield, and their attempts began to smack of desperation as Parker was reduced to speculative long-range efforts.
The visitors continued to press but it was QPR who produced the best chance of the half.
After Zamora had turned the hapless William Gallas in the box, the former Fulham man found himself 12 yards from goal with just Friedel to beat, but Spurs had King to thank for producing a brilliant last-ditch challenge to block the shot.
With referee Clattenburg beginning to flourish yellow cards at will, the game took a dramatic twist as potential match-winner Taarabt was shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away.
The visitors had a little over 10 minutes to salvage something from the game, yet their pressure failed to produce any clear-cut chances as QPR saw out a terrific 1-0 win.
The defeat means Spurs are still yet to record a Premier League away victory in 2012 and they drop out of the top-four at the expense of Newcastle. QPR, meanwhile, take a massive leap towards safety, moving ahead of Wigan into 16th by virtue of goal difference, three points clear of the drop-zone.
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