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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
January 29, 2013
• Loftus Road Stadium, London
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 17894
Queens Park Rangers
90' + 4'
Peep, peep, peeeeep. All over. How QPR made it through the first half without conceding is anyone's guess, but once they'd done that, Redknapp's men were worth their point. Ryan Nelsen was excellent, Adel Taarabt preposterously good whenever he got the ball, and Silva, Aguero et al just did not do enough to earn themselves a goal. A certain Manchester-based Glaswegian will be cracking open a fine bottle of claret with some glee tonight. Cheers for reading!
90' + 3'
The clock ticks towards the end of the match, and the champions are about to drop points to the league's bottom club.
90' + 2'
Taarabt, again leading a counter attack, winds his way through a cluster of tackles, rolls the ball outrageously through the legs of Joleon Lescott, and sees his curling shot deflected wide. He's an absolute joy to watch. Magnificant. Double change for the hosts.
90' + 2'
The kid Sinclair makes his way to the byeline and appears to be scythed down by Nedum Ouoha. A pen, surely!? No, says Phil Dowd! It's the right decision, too. The slightest of toes made it to the ball from the full-back.
Four minutes left, and some chap by the name of Scott Sinclair enters the fray. Who he?
Yellow CardPablo Zabaleta
Another incredible save from Cesar! Edin Dzeko peels off to the left, whips a low cross into the six yard box, and David Silva arrives to tap the ball across goal, only for the Brazilian to materialise and parry the strike away.
Adel Taaraby is a majestically good footballer. For the fifth or sixth time tonight, he escapes the attentions of at least two challenges on the half-way line, spins towards goal, and ignites a home attack. It comes to nothing, but there's no way in hell that man will be playing Championship football next season.
Granero balloons the set piece high and wide. Taarabt shoots him a deadly look. Twelve minutes to go.
Mbia is brought down on the edge of the box by Gareth Barry. Granero and Taarabt eye the dead ball and lick their lips...
In a rare attack, Loic Remy makes his way to the edge of the box and splays himself to the ground theatrically, apparently given the green light to do so by Joleon Lescott's trailing leg. The home fans jeer Phil Dowd's non-decision with contempt, but they're lucky that their new signing hasn't been carded.
Jack 'the next Rio Ferdinand' Rodwell replaces Carlos Tevez. Gung-ho stuff from Mancini.
A decent chance - a three-quarter chance, if you will - for the visitors, as Milner picks up Zabaleta, who nods down to Aguero on the edge of the box. The Argentinian snatches at the shot though, and skews his effort well over the bar. He had more time, there. City's impatience is growing more obvious.
Dzeko whips in a cross that's cleared away for yet another corner afer some fine work from Aguero. The Bosnian nods the resulting delivery well over the bar.
We haven't mentioned this yet, but Harry Redknapp has named two goalkeepers on his bench tonight. A cheap, transparent message to his board that he needs more players? It's not for me to say.
Dzeko fails to bring the ball under his mastery on the edge of the box, when a better first touch could have engineered a good shooting opportunity.
Yellow CardGareth Barry
Gareth Barry picks up a booking for dissent, in a demonstration of his side's growing frustrations. Harry Redknapp will be liking what he sees here.
The visitors are beginning to force things a bit in attack, with Aguero slashing a long-ranger well wide before Milner's attempted crossfield pass sails out for a throw.
It's Samir Nasri who makes way for Dzeko. He's been on the periphery of things tonight, the Frenchman, and he needs to start influencing games more than sporadically if he's to deserve his place in the champions' line-up.
Yellow CardEsteban Granero
Esteban Granero is booked for a tugging at the shirt of compatriot David Silva
Edin Dzeko limbers (lumbers?) up on the touchline as City continue to turn the screw but cannot find an opener. Aguero continues to be a constant thorn in QPR's side, shuffling dangerously around the edges of the box but still yet to find himself with the ball at his feet in front of goal.
Shaun Derry is lucky to get away scot free after aiming a studs-up karate kick in the direction of David Silva. The ball was in the vicinity but there was no excuse for Derry to go in at the angle he did. File under 'seen red cards given for less'.
Zabaleta has picked up tonight where he left off on the weekend. Again, he heads into the box and receives a neat through-ball from Milner, but Tevez's resulting effort from the penalty spot is charged down.
The home side have actually begun the second period with some decent play. Granero and Taarabt are directing things, and Remy is a willing runner and focal point. The Moroccan is by far his side's biggest threat, now wriggling away from two challenges and warming Joe Hart's gloves with a tame-ish effort from long-range.
And we're away again for the second half. No changes from either side, and City resume their monopolisation of possession.
It's hard to know what each manager will think about that half - Mancini has seen his team utterly dominate but fail to find the net. He may call on top scorer Edin Dzeko, but on the other hand, his team aren't doing a whole lot wrong. Redknapp's side have been absolutely battered, but could well be in front. The smash and grab approach has worked well in recent weeks against the big sides - notably Chelsea and Tottenham - and could well reap rewards tonight. That said, if City manage one goal, it's hard not to see them getting a hatfull.
45' + 1'
Half time, and it's nil-nil. Dominant from Man City, but the hosts do look a genuine threat on the counter. Stay tuned!
More City pressure. Plenty of to-ing and fro-ing around the outskirts of QPR's penalty box, but little way past the home backline. How this half will finish goalless I do not know, but it looks to be heading that way.
Another wonderful save! This time from Julio Cesar, who dives full length across the face of his goal to beat away a lovely curling effort from Gareth Barry that seemed destined to nestle inside the post. Down the other end of the field, Joe Hart applauds his counterpart, and rightly so.
Yellow CardStéphane M'Bia
Stephane Mbia collects a booking for a rash lunge in midfield. Not sensible, kids.
Joe Hart comes to City's rescue! Adel Tarrabt runs the length of the pitch with the ball at his feet, following a cleared Man City corner. Tthe Moroccan reaches the box in the inside-left channel, breezes past Gael Clichy with a sublime stepover, and hammers the ball left-footed across goal only to see his effort parried brilliantly by the onrushing Hart, who opted for the Schmeichel-style star jump.
Zabaleta ventures forward again to work the ball to Silva just inside the box, but the Spain international's effort is blocked by the onrushing Ryan Nelsen, and bounces harmlessly through to Cesar.
Aguero has the ball in the net, but the flag is up. A challenge on James Milner causes the England man's delivery into the box to loop wildly, and Aguero, who latched onto the ball, was offside despite controlling and finishing past Cesar with aplomb.
QPR, despite seeing little of the ball themselves, are hassling and harrying well across the pitch. City are being granted little time to pick out a pass once the ball reaches the final third.
City resume their dominance after that brief scare, with Barry, Silva and Milner keeping possession tidily in midfield.
Inevitably enough after that comment, QPR go within inches of taking the lead. Loic Remy latches onto a quickly taken Granero free kick and hammers a snapshot across Joe Hart's goal, but Javi Garcia manages to get a toe on the effort and the deflection sends the ball bouncing just wide of the far post.
Javi Garvia is the latest visiting player to have a go at breaking the deadlock, launching a swerving drive from all of 30 yards which flashes just past Cesar's right-hand post as the keeper sprawls across his goal. There's a goal coming here, folks, and it sure ain't coming to the home side.
Zabaleta hits the crossbar. Some majestic interplay from Agero and Silva down the left wing ends with the Spaniard reaching the byline and dinking the ball back towards the penalty spot, where Zabaleta - a right back! - awaits. His header is well-directed, beating Cesar all ends up, but rebounds back off the woodwork. Still nil-nil.
Forget De Gea, Julio Cesar appears to be channeling the spirit of Sander Westerveld tonight, as he gropes at yet another inswinging corner. This time the ball sails behind him and onto the roof of his own net. Another corner.
We get our first real glimpse at the danger of Sergio Aguero, as the Argentinian scoots down the left flank, shrugs away the advances of Ryan Nelsen, and sees his low effort deflected over for what is already City's third corner of the game. The screw is already being tightening here by Mancini's men.
City are clicking into gear now, and a roving left-wing run from that man Milner ends in a looping clearance. Shortly afterwards, the Silva-Tevez-Aguero shows its first signs of bearing fruit, as the ex-United man forages down the wing, plays a sharp one-two, and wins a free kick.
Manchester City win a corner, and Julio Cesar sends many a home fans' heart into their mouth with his finest David De Gea impression, lamely pawing Silva's delivery to the edge of his six-yard box. Luckily for him and the hosts, though, the ball lands at the feet of Joleon Lescott, who slices his effort over the bar from close range. That could and should be one-nil.
A driving central run from Mbia comes to an abrupt end when James Milner - a no-nonsense Yorkshireman if there ever was one - flies into the mix in front of his defence, sends the Cameroonian flying, and saunters away with the ball.
The first well-constructed attack of the evening comes, somewhat surprisingly, from QPR. Some tidy midfield interplay between Derry and Taarabt culminates with Fabio crossing from his wide-right position, but no attacker is in the box for the hosts. It's promising stuff, though.
We've already settled into a pattern of play where the hosts are sitting deep and allowing City to have the ball. Looks like any result QPR will get tonight will be of the smash-and-grab variety.
And we're underway at Loftus Rd. Can Harry Redknapp's side continue their mini-habit of taking points of the league's more dominant sides, after recent results against Chelsea and Tottenham?
Manchester City Starting XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Garcia, Lescott, Clichy; Milner, Barry; Nasri, Silva; Tevez, Aguero. Subs: Pantilimon, Dzeko, Sinclair, Kolarov, Rodwell, Nastasic, Rekik.
QPR Starting XI: Cesar; Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Traore; Mbia, Derry, Fabio, Granero; Taarabt, Remy. Subs: Green, Park, Ben Haim, Zamora, Murphy, Faurlin, Bothroyd.
Evening all, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE play-by-play coverage of QPR vs Manchester City. I'm Alex Hess, and I'll be guiding you through all of tonight's action at Loftus Road. The team news is in, and will be following shortly....
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