QPR’s bolt from the Blue
Written By: Robert Halter
Third placed Chelsea marked the New Year at Stamford Bridge with a West London derby against rock bottom Queens Park Rangers and leading into the match the Hoops had been unable to register an away win at the Blues in their last thirteen encounters, the last dating back to 1986 in the League Cup quarter final but QPR looked for a reversal of fortune at the start of January 2013. Since the R’s entertained Chelsea in a goalless draw at Loftus Road back in September of the previous year both the Blues Rafael Benitez and the Hoops Harry Redknapp had taken over the managerial reigns. Marko Marin was lucky to stay on the field after a reckless challenge on Stephane Mbia in the opening exchanges. When a Victor Moses cross was deflected over to David Luiz, he was unable to get a proper connection as the ball bobbled over the top on thirteen minutes. Shaun Wright-Phillips took over from the injured David Hoilett two minutes later and made a return to the home of his former club. Three minutes of normal time in the first half remained, when the R’s shot stopper Julio Cesar blocked with both feet from Oscar’s deflected drive off Esteban Granero, before Moses fired the rebound over. Six minutes into the second half, Branislav Ivanovic blazed a header over from Marin’s corner and the Hoops were under further pressure a minute later when a failed clearance by R’s captain Clint Hill was latched upon by Luiz, and his punt forward found Fernando Torres, whose close range strike produced an instinctive block by Cesar to keep the ball out. QPR responded on fifty seven minutes, when Adel Taarabt’s ball on the left flank was picked up by Granero and his high rising effort was snatched out the air by the Blues deputising goalkeeper, Ross Turnbull. On sixty five minutes, the Blues edged closer as Moses curled the ball narrowly over from Eden Hazard’s lay off and this was swiftly followed by Moses finding Chelsea captain Frank Lampard on the left hand side of the penalty box but despite Lampard’s effort finding the back of the net, the goal was ruled offside. Incredibly QPR took a shock lead on seventy eight minutes, when Granero’s corner was pushed out towards Taarabt, and from his well placed pass it found Wright-Phillips, who from far out, drilled the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, to come back and haunt his previous team Chelsea. Time was running out for the Blues as Ivanovic’s header went over the crossbar from Juan Mata’s cross in the eighty ninth minute. When Luiz’s dipping shot at distance fizzled over the upright, deep into stoppage time, it signalled the end for Chelsea, after Queens Park Rangers had held out and weathered the storm to record a famous victory in their fight for Premiership survival.