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Premier League

  • 20 August 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 35008

Everton 0-1 QPR: First-half Tommy Smith strike proves decisive as Tony Fernandes' ownership of visitors starts strongly

Everton 0-1 QPR: First-half Tommy Smith strike proves decisive as Tony Fernandes' ownership of visitors starts strongly

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Visitors earn first points in the Premier League after a hard-fought victory at Goodison Park while David Moyes' men begin their campaign with a home defeat

QPR earned their first points in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Everton thanks to a clinical first half finish from Tommy Smith and a dogged display of defending in the second half, becoming the first team to win at Goodison Park since November.

The Toffees were starting their Premier League season a week late after their game away to Tottenham Hotspur was postponed because of the London riots, while QPR had a rude awakening in their first game in England’s top flight, losing 4-0 at home to Bolton Wanderers.

Rangers were recently taken over by new owner Tony Fernandes, who bought out Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, but the big talking point at the start of the game came from the home side, who handed a full competitive debut to England Under-19 international Ross Barkley.

The game started quite scrappily as both teams looked to settle, and it did not take QPR long to have the first opportunity through Tommy Smith, but he fired his shot wide of the left-hand post in the third minute. However, Everton soon found a response, as Beckford was presented with a chance from a Phil Neville cross, but could not quite connect properly with his header. Leighton Baines was also able to find some space on the left, but his cross for Tim Cahill in the 11th minute could not find the head of the Australian.

Everton dominated the first 15 minutes of play, but QPR grew into the game in the first half, despite the Toffees’ goalkeeper Tim Howard still being given little to do. However, Everton went close in the 21st minute after a free kick from Baines hit the underside of the bar and rebounded away after some good work by Barkley just outside the penalty area.

This dominance continued for the home side, with chances for Barkley and Cahill being dealt with, but it was QPR who took the lead in the 31st minute through Tommy Smith. He received a cross from Akos Buzsaky, turned his marker and finished clinically at the far post. It was QPR’s first goal in the top division in English football for 15 years, and it seemed to damage Everton’s confidence, but they had a good chance in the 38th minute through Tim Cahill, who headed wide when he seemed almost certain to score.

This chance seemed to spur Everton on, as they began to create more and more chances thanks to the crossing of Leighton Baines from the left. Cahill had another shout for a penalty in the 40th minute, before again heading over the bar again after a testing cross from Baines. At half time, the score was 1-0 to QPR, but Everton were beginning to regain some confidence.

Sticky Toffees | Taarabt tries to brush off Jagielka as QPR beat Everton at Goodison

The hosts began the second half brightly, with Jack Rodwell shooting straight at Paddy Kenny after being put through on goal by Johnny Heitinga almost immediately after the restart. Mikel Arteta was brought on in the 55th minute in place of Jack Rodwell as David Moyes looked to regain some control in the midfield, before Patrick Agyemang was stretchered off with a leg injury and was replaced by Jay Bothroyd in the 57th minute.

Frustration was beginning to creep into Everton’s play, as they found themselves unable to retain possession, while Leon Osman had a shot blocked in the 60th minute when he could have played the ball through to either Heitinga or Beckford. However, the introduction of Marouane Fellaini for Beckford saw an immediate improvement in Everton’s play, as the second-half substitute played Cahill through, who then forced a corner.

Everton were beginning to take more of the attacking initiative, with the impressive Barkley shooting wide from 25 yards in the 72nd minute as QPR were kept largely in their own half. However, the Toffees were struggling to increase the tempo of play despite controlling possession, as QPR were able to deal with any forward movement.

Whenever Rangers had the ball, they appeared to be becoming nervous, and Adel Taarabt found himself unable to spark any attacking play. The visitors were beginning to sit deeper and deeper in their own half, and while Shaun Derry was able to cope with any midfield pressure, so Everton were limited only to speculative long-range efforts.

QPR continued to defend doggedly as Everton struggled to forge any clear openings, and Paddy Kenny remained untroubled in the Rangers goal. As the game moved into added time, Everton still found themselves unable to create any chances, with only a Fellaini header straight at Kenny from an offside position being their only attacking moment.

As the referee blew the full time whistle, the boos rang out across Goodison Park, showing the fans’ frustration at both their team’s play and their lack of summer spending in the transfer window.

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