QPR 1-3 Saints
Saints recorded a much needed first away win at QPR, alleviating some of the pressure on Nigel Adkins. The visitors were superior in every department and thoroughly deserved all three points.
Adkins named the same team and formation that started against Swansea last week. The away side made a bright start to the game. The likes of Adam Lallana, Gaston Ramirez and Jason Puncheon looked very sharp in the early going. Ramirez set-up the first major chance for Lallana, who volleyed just over the bar. Puncheon nearly got lucky with a cross which evaded everyone before hitting the post.
QPR came into the game a bit more after the 15 minute mark, with Adel Taarabt and Junior Hoilett testing Paulo Gazzaniga. Saints were a lot more resolute at the back however, and didn’t concede too many more chances. Both sides had opportunities to hit each other on the counter, but were too slow and indecisive. It took a set-piece to break the deadlock. A series of headers bounced around in the QPR box, before the ball fell to Ramirez on the right-hand side. He pulled it back for Jose Fonte, who had his shot deflected into the path of Puncheon. Anton Ferdinand cleared the ball off the line, only for Rickie Lambert to head in from very close range. Saints remained comfortable throughout the rest of the first half, with QPR only threatening from range. It was 2-0 just before the break. Puncheon twisted his body on the edge of the area, before curling the ball into the bottom corner past Julio Cesar.
QPR came out fired up immediately after the re-start and pulled a goal back only a few minutes in. Gazzaniga misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing Hoilett a simple header. Saints could have crumbled at that point, but instead they grew stronger, entering a huge period of dominance. Puncheon came close on a number of occasions to adding to the scoreline. He fired wide twice within a minute or so, before testing Cesar with a powerful strike. QPR were largely dismal, but while there was only a goal in it, they were still in with a shout. Djibril Cisse curled wide of the post and Ryan Nelsen headed straight at Gazzaniga from a corner. Anything other than a Saints win would have been a total injustice, however. The away side pushed hard for a third in the final ten minutes, with Maya Yoshida coming close with an acrobatic volley. The goal eventually arrived on 83. Morgan Schneiderlin cut the ball across the six yard box, with Ferdinand putting through his own net. It could have easily been more, with Saints on the offence throughout the second half.
A very pleasing afternoon of football. Nigel Adkins had a plan and the team carried out his instructions perfectly. Defensively we looked as strong as we have all season. Maya Yoshida and Jose Fonte were near perfect in terms of decision making and timing. Clyne was a class act as always, and Shaw looks promising. Jack Cork has made such a difference in the last two games. He protects the back-four and adds composure going forward. Lallana was back to his best and Puncheon was a constant threat. It’s all looking very good at the moment .Providing Saints can stay injury free, we should start picking up more points in the near future.
QPR: Cesar, Diakite (Derry 71), Traore, Ferdinand, Cisse, Taarabt, Granero, Nelsen, Bosingwa (Fabio 73), Hoilett, Faurlin (Mackie 46). Subs (not used): Green, Wright-Phillips, Dyer, Ehmer
Saints: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw (Fox 74), Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Cork, Lallana, Ramirez (S. Davis 61), Lambert (Rodriguez 90), Subs (not used): K. Davis, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka.