QPR 2-1 Fulham: Taarabt double gifts Redknapp first Hoops victory
The Moroccan scored twice to give the hosts their first win in 17 league matches, with Fulham failing to threaten until a late Petric strike set up a nervy finish
Adel Taarabt was the star of the show as QPR finally ended their search for a Premier League win, beating a tepid Fulham side 2-1 at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Taarabt struck twice in the second half for Harry Redknapp’s men before a late Mladen Petric strike for the visitors forced a nervy climax.
Before the game, Redknapp suggested that two wins would make QPR’s season a "different game." Well, here was the first – and QPR’s only one in 17 attempts this season.
Redknapp opted to continue with Rob Green in goal despite Julio Cesar returning from a groin injury, with Djibril Cisse, Nedum Onuoha and Alejandro Faurlin also being handed places in an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
By contrast, the visitors only made one change from their 2-1 win over Newcastle, with Kieran Richardson replacing Alexander Kacaniklic and Mark Schwarzer, Sascha Riether, Aaron Hughes and Steve Sidwell all continuing their run of starting every league match this season.
Jol’s men headed into proceedings looking to achieve back-to-back league wins for the first time since September, but seemed haunted early on by the knowledge they had won just once on the road this season as QPR dominated early on.
Taarabt – who has clearly been awarded plenty of freedom by Redknapp – almost presented the Hoops an immediate lead after the Moroccan played Djibril Cisse through on goal with a sublime through ball, but the Frenchman wasted the chance and fired wide again minutes later.
The Frenchman’s profligacy was clear for all to see, but it was astonishingly surpassed shortly afterwards when Jamie Mackie missed a sitter of his own.
A dreadful Jon Arne Riise back-pass left Mackie through on goal, but the 25-year-old sent his shot wide from inside the box when it appeared easier to score.
All the while, however, Fulham offered no threat in return; Dimitar Berbatov sat surprisingly deep and the Cottagers midfield looked happy enough to simply retain the ball.
But Taarabt looked determined to snatch the ball back at every opportunity, with every one of his runs finding space, every pass penetrating the Cottagers back line and every shot getting closer to finding the net.
And, after a goalless first half, the mercurial 23-year-old made the vital breakthrough as he found the ball in space and drove down the middle to fire from range on 52 minutes.
The ensuing shot took a fortunate deflection off Fulham skipper Brede Hangeland and found its way into the back of the net.
And 20 minutes later, Taarabt struck again. Hangeland, who must have been sick of the sight of the Morrocan by full time, was robbed of the ball before the 23-year-old sent another finish low past Schwarzer.
A brilliant left-footed strike from Petric late on set up a frantic finish for the Hoops, but this was the Taarabt show. And, in the end, there was nothing Fulham could do to stop it.