EPL: Manchester City survive scare against QPR
London: Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez scored second-half goals as Manchester City secured a 3-1 victory over QPR, but once again the defending champions were temporarily pegged back at the Etihad Stadium.
Yaya Toure gave City a first-half lead in what was, for the most part, a one-sided fixture, finishing from the centre of the penalty area after an unfortunate deflection had diverted the ball directly into his path.
Not for the first time this season, however, the home crowd was stunned by the less illustrious visitors when Bobby Zamora converted from point blank range after good work from Andy Johnson.
It took City less than two minutes, though, to restore their advantage as Dzeko headed home Tevez`s cross before the Argentine deflected his strike partner`s shot into the back of the net in added time.
Roberto Mancini reverted to a 4-2-3-1 after the mixed success of his recent 3-5-2 experiment, with Dzeko starting in attack in the absence of Sergio Aguero. Mario Balotelli, despite his eye problem, was on the bench.
Esteban Granero made his debut for QPR, with Alejandro Faurlin making his first league appearance after a long-term knee injury alongside him. Andy Johnson partnered Bobby Zamora in attack.
It was one-way traffic from the start. Corners looked City`s most likely route to goal in the early stages, with Dzeko missing the target with one attempt and seeing another cleared off the line.
QPR sat extremely deep in their own half and, in bizarre fashion, their best chance of the opening 15 minutes did not come courtesy of one of their own players. Jack Rodwell had Joe Hart scrambling after an attempted tackle in the middle of the pitch flew towards the City goal and narrowly over the crossbar.
Eventually, the set-plays paid off. When Tevez attempted to return Silva`s deep corner to the centre of the box, a deflection took the ball into the path of Yaya Toure, who swept a shot home with his left boot from 10 yards.
Robert Green may find himself quickly ousted as QPR`s first-choice goalkeeper when Julio Cesar becomes available to Mark Hughes but if not for an excellent save from the England international, Silva would have doubled the lead after wriggling through a number of defenders and stabbing the ball towards goal from close range.
Silva had another chance when he raced on to Aleksandr Kolarov`s fine through pass but Fabio chased back quickly to block the Spaniard`s shot.
Matters did not immediately improve for QPR after the break. Superb play between Silva and Pablo Zabaleta saw the right-back overlap his winger to run on to a delicate through ball that he curled on to the crossbar with his weaker left-foot from a tight angle.
Once again, though, the defensive shortcomings and carelessness that City have suffered from this season surfaced. QPR equalised with near enough their first chance of the entire encounter when Johnson robbed Silva of possession and forced an excellent save from Hart, leaving Zamora to tap in the rebound.
This time, unlike against Southampton two weeks earlier, they recovered by scoring the next goal. Tevez latched on to a pass down the left-hand side of the penalty area and fired a head-high cross that Dzeko nodded in from a yard or two out to score the 200th league goal of Mancini`s 100 match-long reign.
QPR might have made it a less than impressive six goals conceded in three games when substitute Nedum Onuoha headed a corner back across the penalty area but Ryan Nelsen skewed a volley well wide.
Indeed, Hughes` team enjoyed by far their best spell of the match in the closing stages as City backed off into their own half, but could not carve out the last chance they needed to steal a point.
And Tevez added a gloss to the result after the visitors` attacks had petered out by diverting a wild Dzeko shot past the unfortunate Green.