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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

QPR's Norwich Loss: Reports and Managerial Comments

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- After taking 1 point from 4 games, with 11 games remaining - 1/4 of a season, QPR are now 7 and 8 points away from the available playoff spots - Table

- Paulo Sousa refused to blame his players, as the R's succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Norwich City.
- Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk, Sousa said: "I'm proud of the players tonight.
- "We lost against Ipswich without playing well, but tonight was different, because we controlled the game and created a lot of opportunities.
- "Norwich made one chance and scored one goal.
-"We played good football in very, very difficult conditions, but didn't get what deserved.
- "We need to keep our heads up and re-group for Saturday."
- Despite the defeat, the R's gaffer refused to rule out the chances of Rangers competing for the play-off's, commenting: "When it's still mathematically possible, you have to believe.
- "The closer you are, the better, but of course we won't give up." QPR

- Under-pressure QPR coach Paulo Sousa defended his side after they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Coca-Cola Championship strugglers Norwich.
- Darel Russell's 68th-minute winner gave City a massive boost in their battle to stay up, while putting another dent in the Londoners' bid to reach the play-offs.
- Rangers are without a victory in six games and have not won at home since December.
- Their season is in danger of petering out despite the high expectations of the club's Flavio Briatore-led board, but Sousa insisted: "I am very enthusiastic about my team and I'm proud of them.
- "We played great football and created a lot of opportunities.
- Norwich made one shot and one goal. Sometimes football is like that and you don't get what you deserve.
- "I have told my players I am not only proud of them when we win, but also when we lose, and I am proud of them tonight.
- "My team played very well. We lost, but we must have our heads held high. We did some great things."
- And Sousa refused to give up hope a top-six finish, saying: "When you have a mathematical chance, you need to think of the play-offs.
- "When you're closer to them it's better, but while we still have a chance we must believe."

Russell, playing in place of the axed Mark Fotheringham, profited from a defensive lapse and a mistake by keeper Radek Cerny.
After Lee Croft robbed R's defender Kaspar Gorkss, Wes Hoolahan pounced on the loose ball and found Russell, whose shot slipped through Cerny's hands and into the net.
Russell's goal - his fourth of the season - soothed Norwich's anger at being denied a first-half penalty after Croft had gone down in the area under a challenge from QPR's Spanish midfielder Jordi Lopez.
Referee Graham Scott initially pointed to the spot but changed his mind after consulting his assistant and instead awarded a corner.
Jubilant Norwich boss Bryan Gunn declared: "I'm relieved and proud. The players carried out what we asked of them.
"They could have let their heads drop after the penalty decision but they battled and got their just reward.
"It was a passionate, committed and battling performance. We knew QPR were a big, physical side that would ask us questions and the wet conditions also made things difficult.
"A lot of people have written us off and I've explained to the players that we might need to have a siege mentality. Hopefully, this result proves that we will battle.
"One question I asked the players was whether they'd thrown the towel in, and I think this performance shows that they haven't."
Fotheringham, meanwhile, is expected to join Preston on loan and Gunn conceded that the player's departure is "an option."
"I'll have a chat with Mark," Gunn added.
"It was decided that he wouldn't be in the travelling party for this game and we'll now discuss where we go from here - Sporting Life

- DEFIANT City boss Bryan Gunn praised his players and the travelling Yellow Army as the Canaries grabbed three precious points at Loftus Road thanks to a second-half strike from battling midfielder Darel Russell.
City toughed it out in the wind and rain in the capital to withstand heavy pressure from hosts QPR and grab the win - and Gunn says he was proud of the response from both his squad and the superb supporters in the away end.
- He told First News: "It's a fantastic result, with commitment and passion shown by the players. A lot of people wrote us off before the game, saying we're certs for relegation. We've had a chat with the players, they've had a chat amongst themselves which is good to know, and they really care about the situation we're in.
"We've not had the rub of the green recently, and tonight when we were awarded a penalty and then the decision was changed very quickly, I felt we were in for another night of mishaps. But the characters came through, the commitment was there and we knew it was going to be a battle - the height QPR have got will always cause problems in set plays, but each and every man stood up against that tonight.
- "Nights like this, the rain's still coming down and it's a horrible night, it takes character and commitment to come out here and put on a performance. The fans were a tremendous support - they got behind the players right from the first minute and that was important because some people have written us off and those travelling fans didn't."
- Tonight's gritty victory ended a run of seven games without a win since Gunn was appointed full-time manager and now the City boss is looking to take momentum into the next games, starting with Blackpool away on Saturday.
- He commented: "We need to put on a similar performance at Blackpool now, it's going to be a similar, tough game. It's one where if we reproduce what we showed tonight, we'll have a good chance of picking something up there. Then we need to get back to Carrow Road to show the fans we are in for the fight and we'll come away with as many points as we can. I hope this is the start of a run, there's no better place to start than here, we've shown character and we'll do things right now and prepare for Blackpool."
- City's Club Captain Mark Fotheringham was a notable absentee from the squad tonight and Gunn was asked what the future holds for the Scottish midfielder, with speculation today linking him with a possible loan move to Preston.
- Gunn said: "Mark and I decided it was probably best he didn't take part in tonight's game, we had that discussion on Monday morning and we'll talk again tomorrow. We'll see where the future lies from there, we need to make sure Norwich City comes first now.
- "Alan Irvine and I have spoken and we will continue those talks tomorrow. We're both at games tonight, and we'll chat in the morning and decide what happens from there."
- Gunn had called before the game for players to display passion and commitment at Loftus Road - and in goal hero Darel Russell a holder of those qualities stepped up to the plate when it mattered.
- "He's had a few knocks this season, he's been in and out of the team but we decided he was the right man for the job tonight. When someone produces a performances like that with a goal, it justifies his place in the team. Hopefully he can take confidence from that as hopefully the team will too. You couldn't fault the commitment from them and what they gave us tonight is what we expect for the rest of the season," said Gunn. Norwich

The Telegraph/Rob Kelly - Darel Russell gives Norwich new hope
- They may exist at the other end of football’s financial spectrum to QPR, but Norwich proved more than a match, on the pitch at least, for the cash-rich west Londoners, claiming a crucial win.
- Norwich, £20 million in debt and forced to deny last week that they are on the verge of going into administration, can only dream of the type of security owners Bernie Ecclestone, Lakshmi Mittal and Flavio Briatore have provided to QPR.
- Their situation, both on and off the pitch, is becoming more desperate with each passing week, and if they are to avoid becoming football’s latest victim of the global credit crisis, Championship survival must be a necessity.
- Having picked up seven points from a possible 33 prior to kick-off, Norwich did little to suggest they would improve on that during an uninspiring first half, in which Heidar Helguson and Dexter Blackstock both came close to giving QPR the lead.
- The hosts, also in desperate need of a win to aid their ailing play-off challenge, spurned a host of chances, with Helguson the guiltiest party, heading wide from six yards out in the 48th minute.
- In a game devoid of any real quality, Mikele Leigertwood’s brilliant curling 30-yard effort came as a welcome – if temporary – relief, but Norwich goalkeeper David Marshall acrobatically palmed it around a post. It was a pivotal moment. With both clubs’ defences struggling with the wind and rain, it was QPR who cracked as Wes Hoolahan took advantage of a slip by Kaspars Gorkss to set up Darel Russell, who drove home from the edge of the area.
- Despite their increasingly desperate forays forward, QPR could find no way through a resolute Norwich backline, who valiantly held on to record a victory that breathes new life into their battle against relegation.
- Year two of Briatore’s four-year plan to restore Rangers to the Premier League shows no signs of reaping the rewards its billionaire backers crave. Telegraph

QPR Official Site
- In tricky conditions, a hard-working and dominant QPR were undone by a moment of misfortune as Darel Russell's goal handed Norwich City all three points.
- Controlling throughout, the R's created a host of chances, but could not apply the final touches to some brilliant passing moves and slick attacking play.
- Heidar Helguson and Kaspars Gorkss had the best of the Rangers' chances, but both failed to test visiting keeper David Marshall with headers, with the former firing wide from close range in the opening two minutes.
- Jordi López, on his full debut, also went close with a 30-yard free-kick that fizzed inches wide.
- But ultimately, the R's could count themselves unfortunate against a side scrapping for every single point as they battle for survival.
- In response to the defeat at Barnsley, Manager Paulo Sousa made one change to his starting line-up. In came López for his full debut, in a diamond midfield. Mikele Leigertwood made up the base, Miller partnered López on either side, and Wayne Routledge took up position on the tip.
- The usual suspects made up the R's back-line, Radek Cerny in goal, Matt Connolly at right back, Damien Delaney on the left, and Gorkss partnering Damion Stewart at the heart of the defence.
- Up top, Helguson joined Rangers' leading scorer Dexter Blackstock.
- The R's started brightly, and Helguson should've opened the scoring as early as the second minute. Neat build-up play allowed López to dink a ball over the top of Jonathan Grounds for the Iceland striker to nip in. But, with only keeper Marshall to beat, he poked his shot wide of the target.
- Grounds nearly made amends for his minor lapse by delivering a fine cross from left-back squarely onto the head of Carl Cort but the towering striker powered his header straight at Cerny.
- The R's however, were in no mood to allow the visitors time to build on that attack and nearly took the lead again through López. When Helguson won a free-kick 30 yards out, up stepped the Spaniard confidently to blast it narrowly wide.
- Rangers were firmly in their stride, and Blackstock went close next. Breaking from their own half, Miller played in the front-man, who took a touch before attempting to curl a shot around Marshall from the edge of the box. Unfortunately a crucial touch from Jason Shackell took it spinning wide.
- Rangers continued to dominate, with López in particular pulling strings in the midfield. The only thing missing was the final ball.
- For all their hard work, Rangers were nearly undone by a moment of controversy. When Lee Croft tried to drive in behind the R's defence, a well-executed sliding tackle from López appeared to halt his run. However, referee Mr Scott pointed to the spot to the surprise of the Loftus Road crowd.
- Bizarrely, however, after a quick consultation with his linesman, Mr Scott, then reversed his decision, much to the disbelief of the Norwich players.
- Spurred on by their narrow escape, Rangers looked to take the lead with renewed vigour. A López corner wasn't properly dealt with by the Canaries' defence and Routledge sent a looping header towards goal.
- Eager to make up for not dealing with it first time around, Gary Doherty rescued Norwich with a desperate block on the line, allowing Marshall to smother.
- The second half carried on the theme from the first, Norwich setting their stall with two banks of four, inviting Rangers to try and break through. Helguson very nearly did just that from a Routledge free-kick, but he failed to hit the target with his header.
- That was quickly followed by Leigertwood crashing a long range drive swerving with interest towards Marshall's goal. The Norwich custodian was equal to it, producing a strong double-handed save to send it over the bar.
- Despite the second period very much belonging to Rangers, Wes Hoolahan nearly made the R's pay for squandering their chances. Seizing on an error from Gorkss, the diminutive midfielder tried to find an angle to shoot, and when he did get his effort away, their was the Latvian to block.
- Leigertwood found Delaney out on the left, seconds later, as Rangers hit back, and the Irishman's cross found the flying Helguson, but again, the R's striker failed to find the net.
- It proved costly. In a moment of madness, the retreating Stewart played the ball to Gorkss in an equally dangerous position and when he was robbed by Hoolahan, the Canaries' winger teed up Russell to shoot.
- The shot should've been dealt with by Cerny, but due to the slippery conditions, the ball squirmed away from the Czech keeper and bobbled into the net.
- In response, Sousa shuffled his pack, introducing Hogan Ephraim and Samuel Di Carmine at the expense of Miller and Helguson.
- The former very nearly made an instant impact. Picking up the ball on the right, his left-foot in-swinging cross found Gorkss lurking at the back post, but, with Marshall scrambling, the big defender failed to garner enough power on his header, and the Norwich stopper saved comfortably.
- Continuing to press, Rangers right-back Connolly saw an effort from 25 yards easily saved by Marshall, but still the R's could not find a way past a determined yellow back line.
- In the latest assault, Blackstock and Stewart conspired to get in each other's way, the former poking an effort wide from close range.
- On came Fitz Hall in the closing stages, for Gorkss, but still the R's could not find a way through.
- Rangers had played extraordinarily well, but had just missed that crucial bit of luck they needed to kill off the resilient Canaries, and it remained 1-0.
-R: Cerny, Delaney, Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Blackstock, Gorkss (Hall 87), Connolly, Miller (Ephraim 68), López, Helguson (Di Carmine 74). Subs: Mahon, Alberti.
- wich City: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Croft, Clingan, Doherty, Hoolahan (Gow 69), Grounds, Russell, Bertrand, Cort. Subs: Nelson, Carney, Lappin, McDonald.
Goals: Russell (68) Bookings: Bertrand (80) - 13, 533 - QPR

Norwich Official Site
WIRLING wind and rain set the scene for a game filled with heart-stopping moments in which Darel Russell gaining City three precious points.
- The weather did nothing to aid either side control the ball in a first half which saw a penalty decision overturned for the Canaries and a goal-line drama which left the home crowd distraught.
- The game got off to a lively start with both teams seeing half-chances come their way, QPR's Heidar Helguson dragging his shot wide of the far post early into the match.
- The hosts came a little too close for comfort in the 11th minute, when Jordi Lopez's free-kick from 30-yards flew just wide of the Norwich post. Moments later Dexter Blackstock's shot from the box was blocked by Jason Shackell and the ball looped up and sailed just over the crossbar.

With QPR sustaining pressure deep in the City half, the Canaries defended manfully with good aerial work from Gary Doherty and Carl Cort who headed away a number of efforts from the home side.
In a dramatic twist in the 32nd minute, referee Mr G Scott awarded the Canaries a penalty when he adjudged Lee Croft to have been brought down by Jordi Lopez, after the midfielder surged into the box. The visitors' delight was short-lived when, after consulting with the linesman, the man in black reversed his decision and gave Norwich a corner to the shock of the City players.
A heart-in-mouth moment in the 41st moment came when a QPR corner came in from the right, hit City defender Shackell on the leg and looped goalwards. Croft came across, blocking it on the line and Marshall dived to gather on the line despite cries of 'goal!' from the home supporters.
Half-Time: QPR 0 City 0
Ryan Bertrand challenging at Loftus Road
Te Canary 'keeper was called into action early on in the second half, palming away Mikele Leigertwood's looping effort which was on-target for the top right-hand corner.

Marshall created another pulse-racing moment in the 52nd minute when his free-kick sailed the length of the pitch, dropping just wide of Radek Cerny's goal.

City's Darel Russell grabbed a priceless goal 68 minutes in - Croft gained possession in the box after pressurising Kaspars Gorkss and sent the ball to the awaiting Hoolahan. The Irishman jinked it to Darel Russell and the midfielder's side-footed effort blasted through the hapless QPR stopper from 12-yards.

Soon after Gorkss sent a header straight towards Marshall at his near post, only for the Canary stopper to confidently push the centre-back's attempt away to safety.

The Canaries held firm despite the home side applying further pressure, and Bryan Gunn's squad defied the elements in added time to return to Norfolk three points the richer. Norwich

The Sun - QPR 0 Norwich 1
- ULO SOUSA refused to blame calamity keeper Radek Cerny for scuppering QPR’s play-off dreams.
- The Czech star gifted Norwich their first win in eight games when he allowed Darel Russell’s 68th-minute shot to slip through his hands.
Yet chief Sousa insisted: “When a team has one shot and scores everyone has to take the blame because we should’ve done better for that goal.”
Norwich boss Bryan Gunn said: “I’m proud of my players because they didn’t let their heads drop. The Sun

The Daily Mail QPR 0 Norwich 1: Cerny hands Gunn's men a lifeline By Ian Gibb
Darel Russell's freak 68th-minute goal all but put paid to QPR's fading play-off hopes and threw secondbottom Norwich a vital lifeline in their battle to avoid relegation.
Rangers are still to win a home game this year and the difficult conditions ruined the passing game that head coach Paulo Sousa prefers, with too many passes being over-hit.
Yellow peril: Darel Russell celebrates scoring the winning goal for Norwich City
But surprisingly Sousa insisted he was happy with his team's performance, saying: 'I'm proud of them all as they kept their heads up and kept trying to play good football.'
Norwich are just a bunch of honest toilers and their winner came after blunder by QPR's Czech Republic goalkeeper Radek Cerny.
Russell did not get much power into his shot from Wes Hoolahan's pass but the ball seemed to go right through the keeper's hands and into the net.
Norwich will claim justice was done as rookie referee Graham Scott had awarded them a penalty after a Jordi Lopez challenge on Lee Croft in the 32nd minute, only to take away the spot-kick and award a corner instead following talks with an assistant.
Norwich boss Bryan Gunn said: 'I asked the players if they had thrown the towel in after Saturday's home defeat by Coventry. The response I got tonight has certainly answered that.
'A lot of people have written us off, so we'll develop a siege mentality. The referee got the penalty reversal wrong as he will see when he looks at the video.' Daily Mail

1 Wolverhampton 36 21 67
2 Reading 34 30 62
3 Birmingham 35 10 61
4 Cardiff 33 16 56
5 Preston 36 3 56
6 Sheff Utd 34 15 55

7 Burnley 36 0 55
8 Bristol City 35 7 54
9 Swansea 35 13 53
10 Ipswich 36 7 50
11 QPR 35 0 48
12 Sheff Wed 36 -8 48
13 Coventry 34 -1 47
14 Doncaster 35 -9 46
15 Crystal Palace 34 2 44
16 Derby 34 -4 42
17 Plymouth 36 -11 42
18 Nottm Forest 36 -12 40
19 Watford 34 -6 39
20 Barnsley 34 -12 39
21 Blackpool 36 -15 39
22 Southampton 35 -15 37
23 Norwich 36 -9 36
24 Charlton 35 -22 27

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