Taarabt torments Tottenham
QPR boost survival hopes as Spurs struggle
By Adam Bate. Last Updated: 21/04/12 7:53pm
QPR took a huge step towards Premier League safety as they beat Tottenham 1-0 at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Adel Taarabt curled a measured free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner against his former club to give Mark Hughes' men the lead midway through the first half.
The mercurial Moroccan was later sent off after receiving a second yellow card for kicking the ball away, setting up a tense finale as the home side battled to retain their lead.
Spurs enjoyed much of the possession but rarely threatened Paddy Kenny's goal and the Hoops were able to hold on for three priceless points in the fight against the drop.
QPR are now three points above the drop zone with three games remaining, although they will be wary of the fact that Bolton lie four points back with two games in hand.
The result is a further blow to Spurs as they continue to lose ground in race for a Champions League place.
They are now three points behind Newcastle in fourth and six points adrift of rivals Arsenal in third.
Indeed, Harry Redknapp's side have won just one of their last nine Premier League games, dating back to the 5-2 defeat against the Gunners in February.
Tottenham, racked with nerves, played like anything but a top-four side in the opening 10 minutes.
Kyle Walker and Brad Friedel were involved in a mix-up that almost gifted Rangers an easy opener.
They were also lacking going forward. After being out-muscled in midfield they had to resort to a long-ball game - something that was never going to work with the diminutive Jermain Defoe leading the line.
Samba Diakite made a mockery of the Spurs defence early on by coasting past Luka Modric to slip in to the box but he dragged his shot wide.
Spurs momentarily came back in to the game with Kenny saving brilliantly from Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart in quick succession, but their resurgence was short-lived as Rangers took the lead.
Mark Clattenburg blew for what appeared to be a handball against Sandro 25 yards out and Taarabt curled the ball over the wall and in to the bottom corner past a despondent Friedel, who perhaps should have done better.
Bale scooped a lovely ball over the QPR back four to find Defoe but Nedum Onuoha put in a crucial block as Spurs looked for an instant reply.
Van der Vaart rifled a half-volley at goal and Kenny's parry fell in to Defoe's path but he could only nod over.
QPR ended the first half on top. Taarabt had time to subject Benoit Assou-Ekotto to a series of teasing step-overs on the touchline before the break and Joey Barton's deflected shot sailed over.
After seeing his team booed off by their own fans at half-time, Redknapp brought on Aaron Lennon for Sandro at to add a bit of width, but still Spurs struggled to get in to the game.
Diakite muscled his way past Scott Parker and William Gallas before burying a shot in to the side-netting.
Bobby Zamora wasted a good chance to seal the game in the 68th minute when Gallas allowed him room but the former Spurs striker dallied, allowing substitute Danny Rose to put in a crucial block.
Redknapp opted to switch Lennon and Bale - a move that went down terribly with the away fans, who sang: "Gareth Bale, he plays on the left."
Onuoha caught Parker's trailing leg, but Clattenburg waved play on. Barton insisted that Parker had dived to earn a free-kick and pushed the England captain.
Taarabt plunged his team's victory in to doubt with 12 minutes to go when he kicked the ball away to earn a second booking.
Modric stung Kenny's hands as Tottenham looked to use their numerical advantage and Redknapp brought on Giovani Dos Santos for Parker.
Anton Ferdinand headed Bale's cross away at the near post as Spurs piled on the pressure in the closing minutes.
Dos Santos drew a good save from Kenny in the final minute and Van der Vaart tested the stopper again in injury time.
Five minutes of added time were called but despite their best efforts Spurs could not find an equaliser and they ended the day outside the top four for the first time since November.
|Queens Park Rangers||Team Statistics||Tottenham Hotspur|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||6|
|7||Shots off Target||7|
|28.2||1st Half Poss.||71.8|
|35.1||2nd Half Poss.||64.9|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||11||18|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||11||13|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||11||8|