QPR 1 West Brom 2
Robert Green had a day to forget as QPR sunk to the bottom of the table with a controversial home defeat to West Brom.
Harry Redknapp showed great confidence in Green by choosing him ahead of fit-again Julio Cesar, but the decision backfired in the first half as Chris Brunt beat the England stopper from 30 yards with a shot he perhaps should have saved.
Green then dropped the ball in to his own net to give the Baggies a 2-0 lead just after the re-start, although replays showed Marc-Antoine Fortune had impeded the former West Ham stopper as he came to collect the ball as it looped up off Armand Traore.
Rangers pulled one back through Djibril Cisse, but they otherwise lacked a cutting edge up front that suggests Redknapp will have to make major changes to his squad next month if his team are to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
There was an element of luck about both West Brom’s goals, but other than the occasional flash of brilliance from Adel Taarabt, Redknapp’s team offered little going forward and were also shaky at the back.
Kick-off was delayed by 11 minutes after West Brom’s team bus was delayed by the Boxing Day sales traffic around Loftus Road.
Redknapp’s blast at his under-achieving strugglers following their defeat at Newcastle seemed to have an effect early on today as QPR started promisingly amid miserable weather in west London.
Stephane Mbia fired a drive inches wide as Ben Foster scrambled across his line.
Taarabt nutmegged Brunt with a brilliant piece of skill, but the northern Irishman tripped the Moroccan up to prevent him from unleashing a shot at goal.
Youssouf Mulumbu and James Morrison both had wayward long-range efforts, but QPR were otherwise unthreatened as Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand kept the powerful Romelu Lukaku at bay.
Wright-Phillips produced a dazzling piece of skill to beat Mulumbu and Billy Jones but Jamie Mackie could only head the winger’s cross tamely wide.
QPR looked the more likely of the two sides to score, but it was the Baggies fans who were celebrating just before the half hour when Brunt put the visitors ahead.
The midfielder picked the ball up from Fortune and strode at goal before unleashing a 30-yard drive that sailed in to the bottom right-hand corner of Green’s goal.
Although he was slightly unsighted by two of his defenders, replays showed the England goalkeeper should have maybe done better.
Morison almost made it 2-0 seconds later with a clever volley, but the home side regained their composure and went close through Mbia and Taarabt.
Rangers still looked suspect at the back, however. A bizarre mix-up between Traore and Hill allowed Brunt some time on the edge of the box but he could only shoot wide.
Albion, sensing the opportunity to score a second just before the break, continued to push forward and almost found the net in injury time through Morrison.
After the break the story remained the same. Lukaku found space in the box, but could only prod weakly at Green and Anton Ferdinand almost turned Jones’ cross in to his own net.
Mbia summed up the lack of quality in front of goal for QPR when he wriggled free from his marker to meet Taarabt’s corner, but his header flew straight back at the Moroccan, rather than at goal.
The home fans were then outraged as West Brom doubled their lead in controversial circumstances.
Traore attempted to clear Brunt’s corner but instead his header looped back towards his own goal. Green attempted to collect the ball but he was impeded by Fortune, who leaned in to the stopper, causing him to drop the ball in to his own net.
The away fans ironically chanted Green’s name as the Rangers players demanded Fortune be penalised for the foul, but referee Chris Foy shook his head and the goal stood.
Green gathered his composure to save well twice from the impressive Lukaku and Samba Diakite.
Albion took their foot off the accelerator and paid the price in the 69th minute when Cisse latched on to Mbia’s slide-rule pass and lifted the ball over the advancing Foster.
QPR threw everything at the away goal looking for an equaliser, but they struggled to test Foster.
At the other end Fortune thought he had killed the game off when he beat Green with six minutes to go, but his strike was correctly called offside.
Foster saved brilliantly on the line from QPR captain Clint Hill in the last minute.
QPR thought they should have had a penalty in the first of five agonising added minutes for the home fans, but Foy waved play on when Liam Ridgewell handled Mbia’s header in the box.
The home side went on the attack again, but Foster could not be beaten and Rangers slumped to the second defeat of Redknapp’s reign.