Sunderland 0-0 QPR: Redknapp regime underway with goalless draw
The veteran manager was welcomed back to the top flight with a welcome point away from home in a game lacking any moments of real quality
By Alex Hess
Though the result will not lift the R’s from the bottom of the table – no outcome would have – an away point, and a performance palpably injected with increased confidence and togetherness, will offer the club’s new manager with plenty to build on as his side enters a string of winnable games in December.Martin O’Neill’s side, meanwhile, remain in the league's lower echlons, having failed to move significantly clearer of the relegation zone.
Redknapp shuffled the pack for his new side, bringing in Esteban Granero, Samba Diakite and Jose Bosingwa back into his starting line-up after Saturday's defeat at Old Trafford.
Martin O'Neill, meanwhile, brought in Craig Gardner and Matthew Kilgallon, with Jack Colback and the injured John O'Shea making way.
The Northern Irishman's decision to risk fielding Lee Cattermole - a doubt before the game - almost immediately backfired, however, as his captain was forced off wih a recurrence of his recent knee injury after only five minutes, replaced in midfield by Colback.
Given the two sides were supposedly lacking in confidence, the game's opening stages were not short of attacking ambition - especially from the visitors. Armand Traore was rarely shy of making his way forward from left-back, while Adel Taarabt's trademark flair too was in plentiful supply.
Less surprising, though, was the game's dearth of technical quality, as Djibril Cisse, Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon all turned half-chances into tame efforts on goal in the first 20 minutes, and neither side appeared capable of retaining meaningful possession through much of the first period. Tidy ball use from the likes of Granero and Seb Larsson proved largely the exception to a rule of overriding scrappiness.
The latter phase of the half provided a clear chance for each side, however, as Jamie Mackie and Fletcher both saw almost identical chances blocked by onrushing goalkeepers following well-weighted through balls.
A groin injury to Julio Cesar meant that England international Robert Green became the game's second forced introduction at the interval, and the substitute was twice employed early on in the second half, smothering a whipped left-wing cross from Adam Johnson before getting down superbly to keep out a powerful close-range header from Fletcher.
Green was again tested by a speculative long-range strike from Larsson, while substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips saw his shot rebound off the legs of Simon Mignolet after a smart late breakaway.
In the end, though, neither side could conjure a chance truly worthy of sealing the three points, though with QPR desperately needing any sort of result and the home side having kept a much-needed clean sheet, a draw is perhaps not the worst compromise for both parties.
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