Chelsea 0 QPR 1
On the day Chelsea sealed a deal to sign striker Demba Ba from Newcastle United his new team proved just how much they need him as they slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat against bottom-of-the-table QPR and opened up all the old wounds at Stamford Bridge.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, a former Chelsea player, scored the winning goal in one of the most astonishing results of the season so far; and it leaves manager Rafa Benitez once again in a precarious position just as it seemed he was starting to win over the fans who so bitterly opposed his appointment.
For QPR this was a potentially season-defining victory against their bitter west London rivals, especially when you consider the recent history between the sides that has been so acrimonious.
They went into the match bottom of the table with only 10 points and having won only once in the league all season; but somehow, just days after being outplayed by Liverpool at Loftus Road, they found the grit, determination and togetherness to pull off a famous win — their first in the top flight at Stamford Bridge since 1979.
There were huge celebrations in the away end as Redknapp’s players partied with their fans — and on the balance of the game they deserved their special moment against a Chelsea team who struggled all night to match the energy and commitment of their rivals.
Not surprisingly Chelsea were booed off — and the result means they have failed to win back third place from Tottenham, who overtook them at the weekend, and are now 14 points behind leaders Manchester United.
So the only relief for home supporters was news that Newcastle striker Ba will soon be arriving to take the pressure off Fernando Torres, who despite his recent flood of goals endured another miserable 90 minutes — probably safe in the knowledge that there wasn’t another striker on the bench to replace him now that Daniel Sturridge has been sold to Liverpool.
On this evidence Chelsea need Ba to instil some power and impetus into their play; although most of the credit should go to QPR for a battling performance that suggests Redknapp is once again weaving his magic off the pitch.
“I can’t remember having many better wins than this one,” said Redknapp. “To come here against Chelsea who are absolutely flying at the moment and on the back of our defeats against Liverpool and West Brom was a great result for us. It was a good night.
“You hope it’s a turning point. It’s our first away win since October 2011 so let’s hope we can build on it. It was very important. I genuinely believe we can stay up. If I get can get the squad working and improve the squad then we have a chance — tonight has proved that.”
It wasn’t always pretty, but what Rangers achieved was to completely nullify a Chelsea team that had put eight goals past Aston Villa in their last match here. And that is quite an achievement.
In fact in a miserable first half, devoid of chances or quality, it was no surprise to see the teams head for the dressing rooms with the score still 0-0.
With QPR flooding midfield and defending in numbers there was little room for Chelsea to pass the ball — and with reserve teamers Marko Marin, Ross Turnbull and Ryan Bertrand included in the side Chelsea struggled to dominate an opposing team that was quite clearly inferior in terms of quality on the ball but comfortably their match in terms of spirit.
The only incident of any real significance came in only the second minute when Mark Marin, making a rare start for the home side, launched into a terrible tackle on Stephane Mbia that could so easily have seen him sent off but instead saw him escape with a yellow card. The home team’s mindset was summed up by three miserable long-range shots from central defender Branislav Ivanovic which all flew woefully wide — and although the same player did come close with a header from a corner in the second half there was a sense of irritation around Stamford Bridge long before disaster struck
The longer the game went on, in fact, the more QPR grew in confidence. And Chelsea needed a superb tackle from Gary Cahill to deny Jamie Mackie when he was put through by Adel Taarabt, played on his own up front in a new-look system for Rangers.
Chelsea ’keeper Turnbull, standing in for injured Petr Cech, also saved from Esteban Granero and Shaun Derry before the home side had a goal from Frank Lampard ruled out for offside after 66 minutes.
It seemed no-one was ever going to score — but then up stepped Wright-Phillips.
The former Chelsea winger had endured a pretty miserable match up until the 78th minute. But then he stepped onto a pass from Taarabt and drilled home a low 20-yard shot to give his side a shock lead and a shock victory. It could be one that has a huge impact — for both teams.
CHELSEA: Turnbull 6, Azpilicueta 6, Ivanovic 6, Cahill 7, Bertrand 5, Luiz 7, Lampard 6 (Ramires 79; 6), Marin 5 (Hazard 60; 5), Oscar 5, Moses 6 (Mata 75; 6), Torres 5.
QPR: Julio Cesar 7, Onuoha 7, Nelsen 8, Hill 6, Da Silva 6, Mbia 6, Derry 7, Hoilett 5 (Wright-Phillips 15; 6), Granero 8 (Park 90), Taarabt 7 (Dyer 90), Mackie 7 .
Referee: Lee Mason
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