QPR vs Man Utd Match Report (Rafael rocket ruins Rangers hopes of shock)By: Ian | February 24th, 2013
As part of my seemingly pointless quest to keep this blog alive, this week I bring you the encounter between top place Utd and bottom place QPR. When last they met in early season, Mr. Redknapp was just about to take over, Utd were 2 points clear and QPR 4 behind in the table. Moving on, Utd went into the game 12 clear and with QPR…4 behind. Not much question whose having the better time of it at the moment. But there is always the chance of a cunningly-placed banana skin on such occasions and with the chance to go 15 CLEAR as 2nd place and 3rd place (City and Chelsea) play on Sunday, Utd put out a team to get those three points in the bag.
Utd sent out a team of De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Young, Van Persie and Hernandez. Experience all the way through that side. And QPR sent out 11 individuals who look like a team, but on evidence, don’t play like a team. Present amongst them were Brazilian international keeper Julio Cesar, former Blackburn rock Samba, Bosingwa, former Real Madrid man Estaban Granero, supposed wonder-boy Taarabt and experienced striker Bobby Zamora. Enough to at least mount a challenge to get off the bottom of the table, but that escape may well have to wait for another day. In another season. In another galaxy…
Chilly was the word to describe the conditions as both sides got out the de-icer and started trying to get the motor running. QPR found first gear first to get up to speed, but the first chance fell to Utd as Nani, starting after his excellent FA Cup performance, as he planted a header wide from a Young cross. As Utd skipped first and went straight into second gear, Chicharito guided a wonderful header on a path to loop across the box and over Cesar, with the Brazilian on his toes to tip it over. A ground-level cross from Nani was then just too far away for the Mexican to connect.
QPR looked nervy and as was identified by many pundits, their desire to get on the ball is admirable, but their ability to interlink, make runs, create chances, is severely lacking. Their tough job was then made a lot tougher by a wonder goal from Rafael Da Silva, who was very much Da man on this occasion. Van Persie worked the ball on the edge of the box (more on this in a moment), with his ball into the space pushed out by Cesar. Rafael met the loose ball with perfect connection that left his boot and, if not for the net, may still be travelling. It soared its way across the box, past everyone and into the top corner. Nothing anyone could have done to prevent it, and a contender for many Goal of ‘Insert Time Period here’ competitions. 1-0 to Utd.
HOWEVER, and there is usually a however. In the build up, Van Persie’s momentum from his cross took him off the pitch and into a camera pit. The pit in question failed to move out of the way, it was solid concrete after all, but it could be argued it was in a potentially dodgy place and very close to the field of play. Anyway, in Van Persie fell and took a big hit on his side. Clearly in pain, he tried to run it off.
QPR then finally threatened but Rafael, on a high after his screamer, was well positioned to boot Samba’s header off the line. Cue a counter attack that found Rafael on the right, who prompty floated a cutting ball over and through the QPR defence perfectly into the path of Van Persie. The Dutchman connected a la Van Basten but Cesar got a hand to it. RVP was then replaced by Welbeck, which looked a little more precautionary than downright worrying, with the news that he has a sore hip from the collision but should be ok, especially for Madrid. On with the action, a free kick from Giggs then met the head of Vidic, who did what he hasn’t done too many times in the past, and didn’t divert it home.
A sub of Jenas for Granero for QPR at the break, but with no real significance. As Utd continued, Nani got a header on target this time, the reverse of what he managed earlier, with Vidic also doing the same and this time missing the connection from Giggs’ set piece. Some more substitutes followed, with Rooney (recovering from a sinus infection) replacing Hernandez and Loic Remy replacing Zamora. The latter then brought De Gea out of his afternoon nap with a well-worked shot. The Spaniard was equal to it.
The final subsitutions were made before Utd sealed the victory. Nani timed his pass accurately to release Giggs on the edge of the box with ten minutes to go. The Welshman looked up, looked down, and looked on as the ball left his foot and made friends with the inside of the net. 39-year old beat 33-year old as noted in my revival of the ‘Who says football is a young man’s game?’ feature. Much was made of the fact this was Giggs’ combined 999th appearance across Utd, Wales and Team GB, and he’s still going. The man in question then followed it up with an audacious lob that clipped the bar. I say he meant it, but could have been a cross. Either way, good chance. Welbeck arsed up a final effort for the Reds after dilly-dallying on the ball as Samba, now as an emergency striker, tested De Gea for his second real involvement in the match. It was also the last as the whistle blew.
Utd weren’t brilliant, and the injury to Van Persie took a bit of shine off the occasion. But it was professionally performed, Rafael’s screamer can be watched again and again and again with equal enjoyment and Giggs continued to prove what we already knew, he can play good football. Utd extend their lead to 15 points for the time being, and the league association is probably now out looking for the new colours for the trophy to replace those light blue ones.
Next up is Norwich on 2nd March. Plenty of time to rest for that one, closely followed by Madrid on March 5th.