QPR 2 Arsenal 1: Diakite winner provides massive boost in relegation fight
17:09 GMT, 31 March 2012
QPR breathed new life into their
relegation battle with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Loftus
Road to end the Gunners' Barclays Premier League winning streak.
Former Tottenham midfielder Adel
Taarabt had fired the hosts into the lead on 22 minutes with his first
Premier League goal, but Arsenal levelled through Theo Walcott.
Rangers, though, snatched what could
prove a priceless victory when Samba Diakite crashed in midway through
the second half, but remain in the bottom three after Bolton won at Wolves.
Flying high: Adel Taarabt celebrates scoring the opening goal
QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo, Barton, Diakite, Derry, Taarabt, Mackie, Zamora. Unused subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Bothroyd, Buzsaky, Young, Wright-Phillips.
Goals: Taarabt 22, Diakite 66
Booked: Taarabt, Mackie
ARSENAL: Szczensny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs (Chamackh 81), Song, Arteta (Oxlade-Chamberlain (81), Ramsey (Gervinho 69), Walcott, Rosicky, Van Persie. Unused subs: Fabianski, Santos, Djourou, Benayoun.
Goals: Walcott 37
Booked: Vermaelen, Song
Referee: Mike Dean
QPR captain Joey Barton had used his pre-match programme notes to call for the Rs fans to get behind him after being booed off the pitch while being substituted during the win over Liverpool 10 days ago.
However, the controversial midfielder received a mixed reception when his name was read out ahead of kick off.
Walcott made early progress down the right channel, forcing a corner which was eventually hacked clear. Arsenal continued to press without stretching the home side.
On seven minutes, Clint Hill bundled Walcott over to concede a free-kick just right of centre, 25 yards out. Robin van Persie struck a low, curled effort goalwards, which Paddy Kenny gathered at the second attempt, with Walcott looking to pounce on the loose ball.
Rangers were soon on the offensive, with Alex Song needing to make a couple of important blocks as Bobby Zamora threatened.
Well taken: Taarabt slides home Rangers' opener
The home side continued to push
Arsenal back, and Zamora sent a free header over from 10 yards after a
deep free-kick into the area.
The hosts had the lead on 22 minutes.
Taarabt collected a pass from the
halfway line, before turning Thomas Vermaelen on the edge of the penalty
area and dispatching the ball into the bottom corner.
Hoop dreams: Taarabt side-foots the hosts in front in the London derby
Moroccan Taarabt marked his first
Premier League goal by donning a fez that he then threw into the crowd,
but referee Mike Dean took a dim view of his actions and brandished a
Arsenal needed to regroup, but had been in this situation more than once recently and recovered to secure victory.
QPR, however, remained full of
energy, with Taarabt enjoying plenty of the ball. Arsenal were level on
37 minutes with their first real chance.
Crunch: Joey Barton (right) and Arsenal's Mikel Arteta tangle
Van Persie made space on the edge of the area and stabbed the ball to Walcott.
The England winger cracked a
first-time effort off the base of the far post, and was quickest to the
rebound, hooking in his seventh Premier League goal of the season.
Arsenal now passed the ball around with confidence, Aaron Ramsey dragging a low shot from 20 yards across goal and wide.
Ouch: Jamie Mackie (left) gets a boot in the face from Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs
Leveller: Theo Walcott (right) put Arsenal on terms
The visitors pressed again at the
start of the second half, as Bacary Sagna floated over a deep cross from
the right which fellow full-back Kieran Gibbs nodded just wide.
QPR were now finding it difficult to retain much possession, and then gave the ball away when looking to build a break.
On 57 minutes, Kenny punched away an
angled free-kick from Van Persie. The Dutchman was denied again by the
QPR keeper after spinning off his marker and racing into the penalty
On terms: Walcott (14) scores in front of the visiting Arsenal fans at Loftus Road
QPR went ahead for the second time on
66 minutes. Vermaelen slipped again, allowing Jamie Mackie to skip into
the penalty and pulled the ball back for Diakite to slam home.
Arsenal needed another response and
on 69 minutes, Gervinho replaced Ramsey. QPR soaked up plenty of
pressure, but also looked dangerous on the break as Arsenal committed
Lucky thirteen: Arsenal's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny beats Mackie to the ball
With 10 minutes left, Mikel Arteta was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marouane Chamakh came on for Gibbs.
Barton almost sealed it when his
effort was tipped over by Wojciech Szczesny after another break by
Mackie down the right. The late Arsenal fightback never
materialised as Rangers closed out four minutes of stoppage time to
boost their hopes of staying up.
Fez a jolly good fella: Taarabt didn't score a 'hat'-trick but he was delighted with his goal