Cort treble sinks Rangers
By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: 30/08/05 9:44pm
A Carl Cort hat-trick handed Wolves a convincing 3-1 victory over QPR as Glenn Hoddle's side served notice of their status as genuine promotion contenders.
The Black Country outfit lit up Molineux, especially in the first half, with some slick, flowing football that should have seen a wider margin of victory.
Ian Holloway's side battled bravely, but Cort's third in injury time at the end of the game gave the scoreline a truer reflection of the difference between the sides.
Wolves almost forged ahead in the fifth minute when visiting goalkeeper Simon Royce had to produce a smart save to turn Rohan Ricketts' low drive from range around the post for a corner.
However, the home fans did not have to wait long before their side did hit the front. Just two minutes later Royce produced another fine stop to deny Ricketts, but the former Spurs midfielder showed excellent awareness to nip in front of the goalkeeper and pinch the rebound before crossing to the far post where Cort thumped a volley past Royce at his near post after a mis-kick from Leon Clarke.
After such a positive start, Molineux was left stunned when Rangers drew level barely four minutes later; Luke Moore dug out a superb cross from the left and Kevin Gallen easily got above Lee Naylor to power a header home.
Paul Furlong drew a smart save from Michael Oakes, but Wolves restored their advantage on 24 minutes when Cort latched on to Kenny Miller's inviting low cross from the left to stab home from close range.
Clarke went close to extending the lead but dragged a shot across the face of goal and was then denied by Royce from a narrow angle ten minutes before the break.
The hosts thought they should have been awarded a penalty three minutes after the interval when Danny Shittu appeared to catch Miller as he burst into the box, but the defender was given the benefit of the doubt.
The home fans were left even more incensed shortly after the hour mark when the officials opted to chalk off an own-goal from Shittu after deciding Cort was in an offside position despite the striker not touching the ball before it entered the net.
Glenn Hoddle's side should have given themselves the breathing space their play merited but Miller was profligate with two glorious chances in the space of 30 seconds a quarter of an hour from time. Twice Royce did well to deny the Scottish international, first with a low effort and then a rising shot, but the striker really should have done better.
It was not to prove costly, though, as despite increased possession in the second period Rangers could not find a way to trouble Oakes.
Indeed, in stoppage time Cort put a gloss on the scoreline, completing his first league hat-trick by rolling past Royce into the bottom corner (pictured) to hand Wolves a victory which sees them climb into sixth.
Sky Bet Championship
|4||Queens Park Rangers||42||73|
|7||Brighton and Hove Albion||42||64|