QPR 1 Newcastle 2
Newcastle played their get out of jail card to remove themselves from the relegation equation once and for all, and a couple of jokers helped them do it.
A fixture against surely the biggest waste of money team ever to have stunk out the Premier League is every struggling side’s dream and Alan Pardew’s Magpies were no exception. And Hoops duo Jose Bosingwa and Robert Green made sure it was converted into three precious points with a collection of costly clangers to add to a long-running show reel of bloopers.
Referee Lee Probert had already awarded the home side a questionable penalty, in terms of both intent and location, when Junior Hoillett went down on the very left of the box as Mathieu Debuchy tugged his shirt.
Loic Remy — who made a rather myopic decision to choose Rangers over Newcastle in January — converted that, but the official was quick to even things up a few minutes later when Bosingwa lazily grabbed at Hatem Ben Arfa’s shirt at the other end. Ben Arfa himself smashed the penalty past Green.
Bosingwa, a Champions League winner with Chelsea not let’s forget, was already persona non grata at Loftus Road the moment he refused to sit on the bench early in Harry Redknapp’s currently fruitless reign. He was booed by the home fans for the penalty debacle, but worse was to come.
Green mistakes tend to linger in the mind. His Hoops debut on the first day of the current campaign was an error-ridden disaster as he let in five. Calamity was more than a remote possibility therefore when he rolled the ball to Bosingwa near the right touchline and the defender decided upon an unenthusiastic pass back the way it had come. Jonas Gutierrez was upon it in a flash and got enough of a block on Green’s hasty clearance to divert the ball to Yoan Gouffran, who demonstrated superior technique in locating the empty net with the minimum of fuss.
Unsurprisingly, Bosingwa was substituted at the break, to the loud delight of the home fans, and he wasn’t the only under-achiever to be removed at half time: Stephane Mbia, the Mark Hughes signing who thought he was joining Scottish side Rangers, was hooked in favour of Shaun Derry, a reliably if long in the tooth warhorse from the Neil Warnock era which must seem such a long time ago for anyone of a Hoops persuasion.
The home fans will be praying that is the last they ever see of the pair, but Bosingwa is on €77,000 a week and the list of potential alternative employers is not thought to be a lengthy one.
“They were horrendous goals,” said Rangers manager Harry Redknapp, who reckons his current squad isn’t good enough for a top half finish in the Championship. “He cost us a couple of goals and I decided to bring someone else on. He didn’t mean to make the mistakes. We needed a lift. I didn’t explain it to him to be honest.”
With Bosingwa off the pitch the potential for disaster had lessened, but Green tried the other flank and struck gold with Armand Traore, the left-back, by picking up a back-pass and conceding an indirect free-kick.
Newcastle could make nothing of that, but almost went 3-1 ahead only to be denied by Derry’s block on the line.
Referee Probert livened up the last nine minutes by handing a second yellow to the other goalkeeper, Robert Elliot, who had previously been booked for kicking the ball away. His second offence was to handle outside his box.
The win means Newcastle are now safe as Wigan and Aston Villa, who play each other on the final day, cannot both overtake them.
“I’m very pleased,” said Pardew. “It was an important game for the club. In the first 10 minutes we were so tense it was like we were playing with a noose around our necks.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved