QPR 2 Fulham 1: Taarabt revives Rangers as they record first league win
00:22 GMT, 16 December 2012
The worst start in Premier League history is over. And in the directors' box at Loftus Road, Rangers owner Tony Fernandes punched the air and wore a grin like a child on Christmas morning. Relief flooded the stadium.
At the 17th attempt this season, Rangers recorded their first win, thanks to the sorcery of Adel Taarabt in a spirited performance that reflected the work of Harry Redknapp.
Adel Taarabt of Queens Park Rangers is closed down by Chris Baird
The latest Premier League table, fistures and results
QPR: Green, Traore, Hill, Nelsen, Onuoha, Faurlin, Mbia, Wright-Phillips (Da Silva 85), Taarabt, Cisse (Ferdinand 90), Mackie. Subs Not Used: Julio Cesar, Diakite, Derry, Granero, Hoilett.
Goals: Taarabt 52, 68.
Fulham: Schwarzer,Riether (Kelly 46), Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Richardson (Petric 63), Berbatov, Rodallega (Dejagah 72). Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, Kacaniklic.
Booked: Sidwell, Dejagah.
Goals: Petric 88.
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
For the first time, Rangers have
vacated the bottom rung of the table. For the first time in a season
that cost Mark Hughes his job after spending tens of millions of
Fernandes' fortune, there is hope rather than despair in the air in
Fernandes runs a successful airline
and he has not invested heavily in Queen's Park Rangers to see them
timidly vanish from the Premier League.
'That is the best Christmas present
ever,' said Fernandes last night. 'It is looking good – we're undefeated
under Harry. I feel like I have won the championship.'
Redknapp's brief on his appointment could not have been more simple, or more difficult.
From this morning, he has 21 games
left to keep Rangers in the top echelon of English football, and that is
a mission he can approach with slightly more optimism now.
'It's going to be tough, we're not kidding ourselves,' admitted Redknapp.
'But we have taken six points from four games; and if you get six points from every four games you can stay in the league.'
Last night the Rangers dressing room
was the happiest it had been since relegation was avoided on the final
day of last season and the difference was created by a tactical
Taarabt was given the freedom to play in the space behind striker Djibril Cisse.
'Every time we got him on the ball, Fulham were in trouble,' said the Rangers manager.
Redknapp is no stranger to the Moroccan's talent.
He had managed him at Tottenham but,
at a club brimming with high-class players, Redknapp opted to sell
Taraabt, a teenager with maverick tendencies, to QPR for 1million.
He appreciates that piece of business now.
'He has fantastic ability; he was amazing today,' said Redknapp.
All smiles: Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes
QPR's Adel Taarabt celebrates scoring the first goal
Taarabt's touch and control are beautiful to behold. He has the vision and time on the ball that only few possess.
And with space to play against
Fulham, a conservative, unambitious team, he contrived to make a
decisive breakthrough with Rangers first goal before scoring the second
with sublime impudence.
In the 52nd minute, Taarabt cleverly
brought the ball down, and as Cisse peeled to his left, he took
advantage of the gap that opened in front of him.
Taarabt's shot, perhaps not the
finest he has struck, took a big deflection off the outstretched leg of
Brede Hangeland and left Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer wrong-footed
as he covered the other side of his goal.
Taarabt raced to a corner of the
ground to accept the congratulations of a section of a crowd that has
not had much to shout about so far this season.
His next incisive involvement was memorable.
Barely in Fulham's half, Taarabt
squeezed the ball through Hangeland's legs without the kind of
resistance Fulham manager Martin Jol would have expected from his giant
On the run: Djibril Cisse of Queens Park Rangers takes on John Arne Riise and Aaron Hughes
Up for it: Damien Duff of Fulham wins the ball against Adel Taarabt
In the clear, Taarabt teased John Arne Riise, running hard towards the Fulham penalty area.
And then after rolling the ball under
his right foot, backwards and forwards with the skill of a conjuror,
Taarabt dispatched a shot with the outside of his boot that entered the
bottom corner of the net with gentle precision.
It was a moment of footballing
genius. It was also a moment Redknapp celebrated by jumping from his
seat with his arms raised above his head.
Rangers fans roared their approval. But when a team is at the wrong end of the table, life is rarely easy.
Two minutes from time Fulham
substitute Mladen Petric was allowed to get within striking range and
his left-footed shot beat Rangers goalkeeper Robert Green after taking a
deflection off Alejandro Faurlin.
'I can only guess what psychological effect that had on the team having not won all season,' said Redknapp.
Kiss of life: Taarabt celebrates his second goal
Wright stuff: QPR's Shaun Wright-Phillips tackles Mladen Petric of Fulham
'I know how hard it was for me to live through those final minutes of the game.'
Jol, however, looked for no sympathy. He was disgusted with his team's performance.
'I wanted to give 10 of the 11 players who beat Newcastle on Monday a chance to do it again,' he said.
'But we never looked like earning
the right to play. Rangers were first to the ball all the time and I am
very disappointed with our style of play.'
For Redknapp there was only one blemish on the day.
In January, he can expect to lose Taarabt to Morocco for the Africa Cup of Nations.
But if Rangers can collect a couple
more victories between now and then, Fernandes could be more easily
persuaded to allow Redknapp to raid the market in the transfer window.
Last night, at last Rangers' season had lift-off.
Done it: Defender Clint Hill (R) celebrates on the final whistle with Ryan Nelson
Well done: Martin Jol, manager of Fulham congratulates QPR manager Harry Redknapp