QPR 0 Liverpool 3 – Match report

QPR 0 Liverpool 3: Suarez's double leaves Redknapp and Rangers rooted to the bottom of the table

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 30 December 2012

When Daniel Agger scored Liverpool’s third, one fan stood up, ripped off his QPR-branded hat and coat, hurled them down towards the pitch from the top tier of the South Africa Road Stand and, with a theatrical flourish, flounced off.

There was an hour to play but Harry Redknapp could be forgiven if he felt the same way as he fumed on the touchline.

It was Brendan Rodgers who had called in sick, struck down eight hours before kick-off by a virus tearing through the Liverpool camp but it is Redknapp who will wake feeling groggy this morning and QPR who are staring down the pan.

Lift off: Luis Suarez fired Liverpool into the lead in the first half

Lift off: Luis Suarez fired Liverpool into the lead in the first half

Match facts:

QPR: Julio Cesar, Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Traore, Mackie, Diakite (Granero 63), Mbia, Wright-Phillips (Da Silva 80), Taarabt, Cisse (Derry 46).

Subs Not Used: Green, Ferdinand, Hoilett, Faurlin.

Booked: Mbia, Da Silva.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique (Fernandez Saez 71), Allen (Carragher 87), Henderson (Lucas 64), Downing, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez.

Subs Not Used: Gulacsi, Assaidi, Coates, Shelvey.

Booked: Lucas.

Goals: Suarez 10, 16,Agger 28.

Attendance: 18,304

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Agger’s goal, preceded by two from the
outstanding Luis Suarez, has left them anchored to the foot of the
Barclays Premier League, eight points from safety.

The six-point ‘bounce’ they enjoyed by
sacking Mark Hughes last month has been followed by three defeats. This
display was branded ‘woeful’ by owner Tony Fernandes within minutes of
the final whistle. The forecast is bleak.

Only three times in 20 years of the
Premier League have a team survived after being bottom at the turn of
the year. January brings Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City,
starting at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and the manager demanded fight
from a squad he fears is fat with overpaid and disinterested players.

‘I still think we’ll stay up,’ said
Redknapp. ‘You’ll think I’m mad but I think we will. I only want
positive players around me. I said that in the dressing room after the
match. Those who are moping around, the subs who are not playing,
they’re not playing because they’re no good. If they were any good, I’d
be picking them.

‘I don’t need miserable faces. I don’t
need them around me. I need people who are upbeat. The next two games,
Chelsea away and Tottenham at home, two of the best teams in the
country. Difficult games but we’ve got to keep going and I still think
we’ll do it.’

Back of the net: Suarez beats Julio Cesar to score for Liverpool

Back of the net: Suarez beats Julio Cesar to score for Liverpool

Not if the first half-hour yesterday
is anything to go by, they won’t. Torn to shreds by a team in mid-table
with unimpressive away form and coaches who did not dare enter the
dressing room for fear of spreading the bug which had wiped out Rodgers,
fitness coach Glen Driscoll and reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones.

Rodgers picked the team, planned the
tactics and returned to Merseyside. His assistant Colin Pascoe was also
poorly and advised by medical staff to keep away from the players, even
though he felt well enough to be on the touchline.

‘The medical team and doctors tried to
isolate the players and staff,’ said Pascoe. ‘Hopefully they’ll have
nipped it in the bud but, unfortunately, Brendan woke up and felt
unwell. He might have watched it but he was that bad I’m sure he was in
bed.’ If he was watching, his spirits will have been lifted by Suarez,
who almost struck in the third minute, skipping past Clint Hill with
ease but foiled by Julio Cesar, preferred in goal to Robert Green.

Free scoring: Suarez celebrates scoring his second

Free scoring: Suarez celebrates scoring his second

Rangers captain Hill had spoken ahead
of the game about the attitude of some of the big-money signings made
since the club were promoted but he may regret sticking his head above
the parapet on the day Suarez came to Loftus Road.

The Uruguayan opened the scoring in
the 10th minute. He wriggled clear of Hill, turned and ran, dropped a
shoulder and darted inside. He was simply too quick for the centre half
and applied a calm finish with his right foot.

Five minutes later, he made it 2-0. He
beat Hill in the air and took the return pass from Stewart Downing,
dribbled in from the right and aimed a low cross towards Raheem
Sterling. It was smothered by Nedum Onuoha but spilled out to Suarez,
who whipped it past Cesar from a tight angle.

In March, Rangers came back from two
down to beat Liverpool and launch their survival push but a repeat was
not likely. Liverpool, inspired, poured forward. The home team were in
disarray, happy to cling on until half-time.

Head boy: Daniel Agger makes it 3-0 with a header before the break

Head boy: Daniel Agger makes it 3-0 with a header before the break

Joy and despair: The Liverpool players celebrate Agger's goal as the QPR players look dejected

Joy and despair: The Liverpool players celebrate Agger's goal as the QPR players look dejected

‘Did you think we were going to win
4-3’ asked Redknapp. ‘No, nor did I. You have to be realistic in
football. Do you want to get beat 8-0 or damage limitation So I changed
how we played and shut up shop. Maybe I should’ve done that from the
start.’

Redknapp sent on Shaun Derry and
switched to three central defenders. Here is the crux of the problem,
simplified: the quality players at Rangers don’t have the guts and the
gutsy ones are a fraction short of the quality needed.

Getting there first: Glen Johnson tackles Armand Traore

Getting there first: Glen Johnson tackles Armand Traore

At times it was cringeworthy, such as
when Adel Taarabt tried to pull a corner towards Shaun Wright- Phillips
on the edge of the penalty area. Somehow, Wright-Phillips allowed it to
squeeze between his legs and the visitors set off on a dangerous
counter-attack.

Liverpool eased the pressure and
coasted through the second half, although they could have scored more.
Cesar had to produce a flying save to deny Suarez a hat-trick.

Up for the fight: Adel Taarabt has his shot blocked by Joe Allen

Up for the fight: Adel Taarabt has his shot blocked by Joe Allen

‘Saying it was easy would be very
disrespectful to QPR, they are having a tough time at the moment,’ said
Steven Gerrard. ‘It was probably the best we played this season, in the
first half.’

The win eased Liverpool up to ninth and the only problem, apart from the virus, was a hamstring injury to Jose Enrique.

QPR dream of problems like that.

Tough task: Harry Redknapp has seen QPR lose their last three games

Tough task: Harry Redknapp has seen QPR lose their last three games