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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Compilation of Aston Villa Reports...QPR CEO Beard on Transfer Deadline Day...OTD Flashback: Chris Wright Resigns...Strip Terry of Captaincy Petition!

- Series of Photos from Aston Villa vs QPR
- For comprehensive and latest QPR news-related pieces and discussion, visit the football-only, somewhat-different QPR Report Messageboard. All QPR Perspectives genuinely welcomed! Or comment on any of the articles posted below - QPR REPORT Available on TWITTER!

- PETITION to Strip John Terry of the England Captaincy - If you Agree Sign and send on!

- Martin Rowlands Gets a New Club: Colchester United

- 11 Years Ago Today: Chairman Chris Wright Announces QPR Resignation....Five Years Ago QPR Announce "No China Game at Loftus Road"...The QPR Team Lineup from Nine Years Ago

- Dave Clement (RIP): Would Have Been Sixty-Four Today

TELEGRAPH/Philip Beard

Deadline day at Queens Park Rangers - the inside story, by Philip Beard, the club's chief executive

Transfer deadline day started at 5.30am with me worrying whether Djibril Cissé had been forced to sleep in the reception of the hotel where we had sent him. The last I had seen of Djibril had been less than four hours earlier when he and his agent were bundled into the back of a car after he had passed his medical ahead of his move to QPR.

I was then driving home, absolutely on my last legs, when I had got a call at 2.30am from the agent saying they were at the hotel but the hotel could not find their booking. So I was then on the phone to the night porter saying “whatever you do, get him the best room you have – this is a multi-million pound footballer”. I got home at 3am, struggling to sleep, wondering about Djibril.

Almost 24 hours earlier, my seven-year-old daughter had woken me up. Of course, she did not have a clue that I was entering a day that would define QPR's season.

I headed for the stadium, parked up and the television cameras were outside. That was about 8.30am and, soon after, Djibril arrived with us smuggling him through the doors.

My first impression of him – when I had met him the night before – is that he’s a fantastic guy. He has a great sense of humour and was very happy even though he had waited around in Rome all that day. We had a plane on standby that kept missing its slot as negotiations continued with Lazio. Their president eventually spoke to the airport authorities so it could take off.

We got Djibril to a clinic for his medical that night and, while he went in and out of rooms over the next two hours for various scans, I thrashed out his personal terms.

Once at Loftus Road, we went through the paperwork and spent more time with him to ensure he was happy that he had made the right decision and to explain the structure of the club, what we want to achieve and to hear about him and his family. He was then smuggled to the training ground to meet Mark Hughes and the players.

Throughout the transfer window I have tried to focus only on the players on our wanted list. Being newly promoted and under new ownership, we are a buying club. As a result, I get hundreds of calls from hundreds of agents about hundreds of players. The phone did not stop. Yet, in our minds, we had three or four targets.

Some crazy numbers been bandied about over what we have to spend. Most are fictitious, some ridiculous, but the squad read about them. So I have had a lot of conversations with players explaining that, though ambitious, we are also running a business that has to be realistic.

With Djibril done, I turned my attention to Bobby Zamora. With his club being Fulham and with us a rival London side and also in the lower half of the league, I was unsure whether they would sell but had heard that they might.

I called Alistair MacKintosh, their chief executive, and said: “If we made an offer, is it something we could talk about?” I got the feeling that it was. That was about 9am.

Zamora was Plan A and everything was geared to him. But we had to think of a Plan B, C and D. The transfer window is a bit like a chess game. As we were trying to bring Zamora in, we could see how that could work because Fulham were trying to sign a player in Germany. But if that didn’t happen, did we go for Nikica Jelavic, who looked like he was going to Everton, say, or Hugo Rodallega? Or change tack and go for Steven Pienaar?

I focused 100 per cent on Bobby but in the back of my mind I had to be prepared. We agreed Bobby should go for a medical. At that stage I was in discussion with his agent but our figures were miles apart. I was seriously concerned about whether we would find common ground.

While waiting for Bobby to return, we had time to consider one more loan deal. I sat with the club’s owners, Amit Bhatia and Tony Fernandes, on the line. I made about 20 calls to different clubs to see if they were prepared to loan. Most just laughed and said “you have to be kidding”. We were also on the phone to Mark saying “we can do one more thing if Bobby doesn’t happen” but he was just saying “make it happen”.

Bobby returned at about 7pm. I spent some time with him and explained about the takeover, the owners and the vision for the club. I realised this was possibly the most important decision of his career.

He was also interested that we had brought Mark in. That was a big attraction for him, as was the fact that he knew Anton Ferdinand and Shaun Wright-Phillips. We then reconvened with the agent.

As often happens, it was a bit like a Brian Rix farce because you have people in all these different roles — agent, owners, finance people – and you are moving between each trying to make it work.

Then Man City v Everton came on the television and I watched it with Bobby. I saw the handcuffing and wondered whether I should try to handcuff Bobby to one of the goalposts at QPR, using that as a negotiating tactic.

But seriously, you just have to make it work. It’s a compromise, just like any negotiation, but ultimately it had to be a football decision.

At 10.15pm we shook hands on a deal, got the paperwork done and everyone relaxed. We did a bit of high-fiving then, suddenly, everyone was gone and it was finished and I was in my car on the way home. I got there at about 12.15am and realised I was starving.

The buzz was just extraordinary. I was involved in the Olympic bid. It’s not quite like awaiting that decision but, when you’re shaking hands Bobby Zamora or Djibril Cissé having agreed a deal, you feel that you have done something that will be important to the fans. You hope that it means that they will get to watch a team that will stay in the Premier League.

If I can play a small part in that, it will be fantastic. Telegraph

ESPN - QPR's Cisse hits back over racist comments

February 2, 2012

QPR striker Djibril Cisse has reacted angrily after apparently being subjected to racist abuse on Twitter.

Cisse, who joined the west Londoners from Italian side Lazio this week, retweeted two messages seemingly from supporters of the Rome club before turning on his tormentors.

A Twitter user initially targeted the former Liverpool forward with a message saying: "Die n***** b****** Lazio fans hate you!!!!"

Another user then added: "djibril is a big monkey."

The France international, who scored in his new team's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Wednesday evening, responded in a series of Tweets.

"Wow u are an idiot man insulting me like this coz I left lazio wow u are a real idiot,'' he responded to the first user.

After the second message was posted Cisse added: "Wow is it the idiot parade today.

"I retweeted them just to show how some people are f****** stupids just because I left a club I'm a f****** n***** who deserve to die or a big monkey?wow I'm really shocked u 2 guys are f****** brainless and u should be f****** ashamed."

The incident is the latest in a number of recent racial flashpoints, with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez currently serving a suspension for comments made to Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra and England captain John Terry standing accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, allegations he denies. ESPN


Sunderland 23 5 4 3 19 11 3 2 6 13 13 30 8
Stoke 23 4 4 3 15 13 4 2 6 8 22 30 -12
Everton 23 4 3 5 12 13 4 2 5 11 13 29 -3
Norwich 23 4 4 3 17 15 3 4 5 15 24 29 -7
Aston Villa 23 3 4 5 14 16 3 6 2 14 15 28 -3
Fulham 23 5 4 3 22 18 1 5 5 7 14 27 -3
Swansea 23 5 6 1 16 7 1 3 7 8 21 27 -4
West Brom 23 2 2 7 8 14 5 3 4 15 18 26 -9
QPR 23 2 4 5 12 18 3 2 7 12 21 21 -15
Bolton 23 2 2 8 14 25 4 0 7 14 22 20 -19
Blackburn 23 3 0 9 16 24 1 6 4 17 23 18 -14
Wolverhampton 23 3 2 7 16 23 1 4 6 9 20 18 -18
Wigan 23 1 4 6 10 21 2 2 8 10 27 15 -28

Posted on: Thu 02 Feb 2012

Mark Hughes refused to be downbeat, despite seeing his Rangers side surrender a two goal lead to draw 2-2 at Villa Park.

Djibril Cisse's debut goal and a Stephen Warnock own goal handed the R's a dream start, before Darren Bent pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time.

Charles N'Zogbia set up a grandstand finish with an equaliser 11 minutes from time, but Rangers held on to earn a vital point.

Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk, Hughes said: "The lads are disappointed in the dressing room, but we've got to look at the positives and this is a good point.

"We had a fantastic start - playing well, creating chances.

"If we'd have gone into the break two goals up at half-time, it might have been a different outcome.

"It would have been more difficult for Villa, but the goal lifted them.

"We knew we'd have to dig in during the second half.

"They were always going to push on in the second period, but we stuck at it and it's a good point in the end.

"A point at Villa Park, especially in the circumstances with very little preparation time with this group, is a good point."

Speaking about Cisse's impact, Hughes added: "We were absolutely delighted with the impact Djibril made.

"I think everybody saw his qualities.

"He was tired towards the end and was cramping up. I had to take him off.

"He's had a long few days and we had to protect him.

"There's so much more to come from him, but he's made a promising start."




Mark Hughes praised QPR striker Djibril Cisse after he marked his debut with a stunning goal in the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.

Cisse only received clearance to play 90 minutes before kick-off but needed just 12 minutes to score the opening goal.

A Stephen Warnock own goal doubled QPR's lead but Villa snatched a point thanks to Darren Bent's 100th Premier League goal and Charles N'Zogbia's first for the club.

Hughes said: "I thought Cisse was excellent and everyone can understand now why I wanted to bring him to the club.

"We only got clearance for him to play as I was walking into the entrance at Villa Park when a text came through.

"But he is going to be vital for us. He was bright, intelligent and powerful.

"The fact he has already played in the Premier League (with Sunderland and Liverpool) was a factor in signing him because it means he can hit the ground running.

"It is difficult in January to bring players in who do not know the Premier League."

Hughes felt Bent's goal shortly before half-time was the turning point.

He said: "Had we gone in 2-0 up, it would have been more difficult for Villa to come back into the game.

"But the goal gave them a lift, they gained momentum in the second half and we could not stop an equaliser.

"But I was delighted to get something away from home as we have not picked up too many points on our travels this season."

Alex McLeish is demanding his side reproduce their second-half performance for 90 minutes in games after being unhappy with their first-half efforts.

He said: "We showed a lot of resilience again to come back but I was not pleased with the first-half performance.

"The goals were a joke but we were pedestrian, there was no imagination or creation.

"The goal just before half-time gave us an injection and during the break we demanded that we played with a much greater tempo.

"They responded and full credit to them but we need to see that for 90 minutes in games."

N'Zogbia scored his first goal since his £9million summer move from Wigan and McLeish said: "Hopefully that will help to kick-start his season."
http://www.sportinglife.com/football/liv.....html&B ID=3660

GUARDIANStuart James

Charles N'Zogbia helps Aston Villa rescue lost cause against QPR

A night that began with Queens Park Rangers celebrating an immediate return on their £4.5m investment in Djibril Cissé on deadline day, ended with Aston Villa rejoicing at the sight of Charles N'Zogbia finally opening his account for the club to complete a stirring comeback.

Trailing to Cissé's brilliantly taken opener – the striker also scored on his Premier League debut for Liverpool and Sunderland – and an own goal that Stephen Warnock will have nightmares about for weeks to come, Villa looked down and out until Darren Bent registered his 100th Premier League goal just before the interval to provide a flicker of hope.

Booed off at the break, Villa were transformed in the second half and got the equaliser they richly deserved when N'Zogbia, a £9.5m signing from Wigan in the summer, crashed home Stilian Petrov's centre with a superb volley. It was a goal that denied Mark Hughes his first win at Villa Park as a manager in eight attempts and, in the process, provided Alex McLeish with some respite. The natives remain restless in these parts and a fifth home defeat in six matches would have been hard to stomach.

For Rangers, there was disappointment that such a promising start had failed to yield the three points that would have put daylight between themselves and the bottom three. Jamie Mackie will rue the moment he was unable to connect with a cross from Shaun Wright-Phillips to make it 3-1, although that was a rare Rangers attack in a second half when Villa's creative trio of Stephen Ireland, Robbie Keane and N'Zogbia became increasingly influential.

Cissé was certainly that in the easy stages, his pace and movement catching the eye every bit as much as his blue boots and Mohican haircut. His early goal, which was his first in the Premier League since he scored for Sunderland against Hull in April 2009, was dispatched with aplomb, his low shot drilled into the far corner after the ball had dropped kindly for him following Ireland's attempted block on Wright-Phillips.

"I thought Cissé was excellent," Hughes said. "I think everybody understands why I wanted to bring him to the club. I thought he was bright, he was intelligent with his running and showed the power and pace that we all now that he has, and it was a good finish as well. He's going to be vital for us because that's something we haven't had in the football club before, in terms of his quality, power and technical ability."

Bobby Zamora, another deadline day signing, was ineligible and Hughes revealed that it had been a close call as to whether Cissé took part. Asked when he knew that Cissé had been granted international clearance, Hughes replied: "I think we were about 20 yards from the [Villa Park] entrance. I got a text but I didn't tell him because I wanted him to focus. I thought I was being clever but when I got in the dressing room his agent had told him already, so it was a waste of time."

If McLeish was annoyed that Cissé was left totally unmarked for his goal, it was nothing compared to the dismay he felt when Warnock headed a cross from another Rangers debutant, Taye Taiwo, into his own net in farcical circumstances. Warnock, who was booed by the Villa fans later in the half, after a wayward cross ended up in row Z, seemed to think that Richard Dunne was going to head the ball clear. McLeish buried his head in his hands in the dug-out and not even the sight of Bent stabbing home Alan Hutton's cross on the stroke of half-time could paper over the cracks of a listless opening 45 minutes.

"I just couldn't believe the first-half performance," McLeish said. "The goals were a joke. It was a pedestrian performance. We never penetrated, there was no running off the ball, no imagination or creation. We spoke at half-time and we demanded that if you play in a Villa jersey, it's got to be a much quicker tempo, especially in front of our own fans. And they responded. But I would love to see them playing in the first half, like we did in the second half. We've got to be at it every game."

Villa should have had a chance to level from the penalty spot early in the second half, when Shaun Derry clearly blocked Ciaran Clark's shot with a raised hand, but the referee, Neil Swarbrick, waved away the home appeals.

The home team were, though, cranking up the pressure on Rangers and there was a sense of inevitability about the equaliser. Ireland helped to create it, with a sublime reverse pass that released Petrov. When the Bulgarian crossed to the far post, N'Zogbia executed a sumptuous volley. "Hopefully that kick-starts his Villa career," said McLeish. "In the second half he was much more electric."

TELEGRAPH/Henry Winter

Aston Villa 2 Queens Park Rangers 2: match report
Read a full match report of the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park on Wednesday Jan 31, 2012.

Djibril Cissé and QPR started this entertaining game in style but Aston Villa finished by far the stronger, and were unfortunate not to win. Only Paddy Kenny’s reflexes kept QPR in it.
So cautious in the early stages, when a Cissé strike and a surreal Stephen Warnock own goal put Rangers in charge, Villa responded impressively. Darren Bent clinically and Charles N’Zogbia flamboyantly brought Villa level but Kenny denied them further reward. Rangers ended with a point and the memory of Cissé’s strong debut.
The final piece of paperwork from Lazio to the FA had gone through 90 minutes before kick-off, so clearing Cissé to play. After the red tape had been unravelled, the £4 million striker cut through the claret-and-blue defence as if were ribbon. QPR’s tactics had clearly been to release Cissé as quickly as possible, using his pace to get behind Richard Dunne and the hapless Warnock on the left of Villa’s back four.

The Frenchman, returning to the Premier League, hit the ground running, scoring and putting in a first-half display of back-heels and back-flips that had the visiting fans purring. “There’s only one Cissé,’’ they chanted. Newcastle United fans will disagree but this was love at first sight between QPR and their new No 23.

Cisse was unstoppable, scoring a good goal after Shaun Wright-Phillips had somehow laid the ball into his path. As the Holte End looked on in horror, the unmarked Cissé hammered the ball past Shay Given. His celebration was even better, that familiar collection of flips getting an airing.

Villa could not deal with him. Warnock had already welcomed him back with a strong challenge, leaving him spinning on the turf and appealing to Neil Swarbrick for action. The referee ignored the claims.
His movement was too much for Villa. He almost scored a second with an acrobatic volley. He then raced away from Dunne, never an equal sprint race, and lifted in a cross that was just too high for Wright-Phillips. The England winger was working the left, occasionally moving central, and linking well with Cissé, who found him with a neat back-heel midway through the half.

Jamie Mackie provided the width on the right while Rob Hulse partnered Cissé . The prospect of Bobby Zamora, who did not sign in time for this game, forming an exciting attacking axis with Cissé also warmed the hearts of the QPR fans on a freezing night.
Alex McLeish became increasingly frustrated with Warnock, shouting instructions at the left-back, who had rarely been in favour with Gerard Houllier. Warnock’s stock fell even lower than the temperature when addressing a seemingly harmless cross from Taye Taiwo, the visitors’ new left-back.
Warnock’s reaction was extraordinary, resembling a sports-shy schoolboy trying to get out of games. Instead of heading clear, Warnock headed the ball firmly past Given. Villa’s keeper has been down this road before with Warnock, even saving from his team-mate against Everton, but he had no chance there. Warnock’s header flew between Given and upright.
The Holte End howled. McLeish held his head in his hands. Yet his team responded, their momentum accelerated by the waning of QPR’s initial adrenalin charge.
Robbie Keane was inevitably involved, firing goalwards and forcing Paddy Kenny to push the danger away. Dunne then Ciaran Clark threatened. Villa screamed for a penalty when Mackie appeared to handle. Still the hosts pressed, knowing the level of opprobrium that could await them at the break. Bent headed wide.
The pressure told when Keane found Alan Hutton down the right and the Scot drilled the ball across low and hard, perfectly for the clever run of Bent. The England striker stole a march on his marker, nipping in to score with a typical first-time finish for his 100th Premier League, becoming the 22nd man to achieve the feat.
Though trailing only 2-1, the mood among the Villa faithful was initially still unforgiving, with some boos ringin out.

But the Holte End was soon at its supportive best as the second half opened. Villa were attacking this famous bank of humanity, and every fan shouted for a penalty when Clark’s strike hit Shaun Derry’s hand. Swarbick waved play on.
Back came Villa again, Stiliyan Petrov and Keane thwarted by Kenny.Then Charles N’Zogbia raced through the gears, sprinting into the box until closed down by Joey Barton.
Rangers’ third debutant, Nedum Onuoha, was settling in well in defence, helping Barton to frustrate N’Zogbia and attempting to deal with the rising claret-and-blue tide. Bent almost found a way through but Taiwo was too substantial a barrier.

McLeish had introduced Barry Bannan’s subtle gifts into the fray. He tried his luck with a long-range free-kick that thudded into the QPR wall.
Hughes’ side were defending increasingly deep. Cissé was a distant figure.
Villa took increasing advantage. Stephen Ireland released Petrov down the right and his cross was met magnificently by N’Zogbia, who drove the ball past Kenny.
Villa were terrific. Bent had a shot cleared off the line then Kenny saved brilliantly from N’Zogbia. Again. Telegraph


McLeish proud of fightback but frustrated with start against QPR
Alex McLeish on QPR draw.1st Feb 2012

By Paul Brown

Alex McLeish was proud of the brilliant fightback from his players against QPR - but annoyed that they couldn't turn on the style from the start.

McLeish was impressed with the way his stars dug in to turn the match around from two-down early on.

But he was frustrated with the way they conceded two "joke" goals and gave themselves a mountain to climb.

The boss wants accomplished displays for 90 minutes in coming games.

He said: "I just couldn't believe the first half performance. The goals were a joke.

"It was a pedestrian performance. Although we probably had more of the ball, we never penetrated.

"There was no running off the ball, no imagination, no creation.

"But the goal just before half-time gave us an injection.

"We spoke at half-time and we told them that wearing the Villa jersey it has to be a much quicker tempo, especially in front of the home fans.

"They responded, credit to them for their recovery.

"They have done that a few times this season but I would love to see us play in the first half the way we played in the second half.

"We have to be at it in every single game. We can't turn it on and off.

"We can't have slow possession and then turn speed up like Man City. We have to play at a more dynamic style.

"You do think 'is it going to be our night' after the chances we had but the one thing about the education of players is that you never give up. You just never give up. You go to final whistle.

"But they should have done that from the start, they may have won the game.

"It's a little bit of nervousness for some reason. We had 10 internationals out there and I feel they must show that international experience.

"International players have 15-20 games in a row showing consistency. But we are having a wee bit of inconsistency just now and we need to put that right.

"It's sucker goals we're losing, not in keeping with what I expect in terms of the experience we have back there.

"But they have shown their resilience in other games, like Chelsea in the fantastic win, Wolves in the second half where they rolled up the sleeves and showed great character.

"If we can show more composure throughout, we will be a better team for it."

While McLeish felt mixed-emotions after the slow start and stunning comeback, he was steadfast in his view on Villa's penalty appeal in the second half.

Shaun Derry appeared to handle in the box but referee Neil Swarbrick waved away protests.

McLeish added: "We were unlucky.

"Shaun definitely stopped the ball heading for the top corner.

"I don't know why his hand is up by his face, maybe he was protecting it.

"You weren't allowed to put your hand in front of your stomach or your chest or your face when I played. You have to take it square on and be brave."

BBC - Alistair Magowan
BBC Sport
Aston Villa recovered from two goals down to draw with Queens Park Rangers as Djibril Cisse scored on his debut.
The French striker, who signed for QPR from Lazio on Tuesday, fired in after a blocked Shaun Wright-Phillips shot.
Stephen Warnock scored a bizarre own goal from Taye Taiwo's cross to double the lead, before Darren Bent pulled one back from Alan Hutton's centre.
Villa bossed the second half and grabbed a second when Charles N'Zogbia volleyed in Stiliyan Petrov's cross.
Having spluttered through the first half, Villa were only prevented from completing a superb turnaround by some last-ditch QPR defending.
Tommy Smith denied Darren Bent on the line, while Paddy Kenny was called into action on several occasions as the hosts looked a completely different team after the break.
But with his side having failed to win any of their previous five home games, McLeish will at least be thankful he got a response after the visitors dominated the opening period.
Darren Bent's goal was his 100th in the Premier League, the 22nd player to achieve that mark
Cisse's goal means he has scored on his debut for Liverpool, Sunderland and QPR
QPR boss Mark Hughes captured Cisse and Bobby Zamora barely 24 hours before this game. Zamora was unable to feature, and Cisse was only cleared to play an hour before kick-off after paperwork delays from his former club.
But after a firm challenge from Warnock welcoming him back to English football, the 30-year-old former Liverpool striker wasted little time in having an impact on his first game in the Premier League since May 2009.
Jamie Mackie was involved in the build-up and when Wright-Phillips had his shot blocked the ball fell to Cisse, who made no mistake by firing an angled shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
With both teams knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend, this game gave them the opportunity to concentrate on their league form and despite being four places beneath their opponents in the table, it was QPR who started with far more purpose.
Despite featuring debutants Taiwo and Nedum Onuoha, they doubled their lead in fortunate circumstances just before the half hour when Warnock, under no pressure, headed Taiwo's cross past Shay Given into his own net from eight yards.
McLeish was understandably dumbfounded but the goal finally drew a response from the hosts with Richard Dunne's header saved by Kenny, while Robbie Keane's deflected shot hit the bar.
Villa also had a handball claim when N'Zogbia's through ball clipped Mackie's hand, but it was not long before they reduced the deficit.
Keane approached the QPR defence before passing wide to Hutton, and the Scot's low cross was met by Bent for his 10th goal of the season.
The hosts continued in the same vein after the break, with Kenny saving shots from Petrov and Keane, while Ciaran Clark had a very good penalty appeal rejected after his strike cannoned off Shaun Derry's arm.
And by the hour mark the game had turned, with QPR struggling to contain Villa, who were stringing together a series of attacks.
Hughes's side had a great opportunity to restore their two-goal lead against the run of play when, following a corner, Mackie mistimed an attempted shot from Wright-Phillips's low centre with the ball fizzing through his legs.
But that remained an isolated chance for the visitors, and Bent could have drawn Villa level before N'Zogbia made his mark on his return to the side in place of the injured Gabriel Agbonlahor by hitting a sweetly-timed volley to level matters.
That was the cue for the Villa supporters to find their voice and only Tommy Smith's goal-line clearance prevented Bent from grabbing a winner.
QPR were also thankful to debutant Onuhoa who, along with Kenny, was a solid foil in defence as the visitors grabbed a well-earned point.

QPR Official Site

Aston Villa came from two goals behind to earn a share of the spoils with the R's.

QPR enjoyed the perfect start when Djibril Cisse put the visitors in front just 12 minutes into his Rangers debut.

Stephen Warnock then put through his own net in the 29th minute to double the R's advantage, with Mark Hughes' men appearing to be on their way to back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since December 1995.

Darren Bent, however, reduced the arrears when he struck his 100th Premier League goal on the stroke of half-time - and that shaped how the second period would pan out.

Indeed, Villa dominating proceedings after the break and, after Charles N'Zogbia equalised for the hosts on 79 minutes, they laid siege on the R's goal.

But Rangers held on - that despite four minutes of second-half stoppage time - to earn a point.

Hughes handed debuts to three new signings at Villa Park - and made five changes in total from the team that lined up against Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend.

Cisse, Nedum Onuoha and Taiwo all began for Rangers, while there were also places in the starting XI for Shaun Derry and Rob Hulse - making his first QPR start since April.

Paddy Kenny was in goal for Rangers, in a now accustomed 4-4-2 formation under Hughes.

Former Villan Luke Young, Onuoha, Anton Ferdinand and Taiwo made up Rangers' back four.

Jamie Mackie and Shaun Wright-Phillips occupied the wide positions in midfield, with skipper Joey Barton and Shaun Derry in the middle.

Cisse was partnered by Hulse in attack.

Ironically, it was 35 years to the day that these two sides met in a semi-final first leg in the 1967 League Cup - a goalless draw at Loftus Road.

The R's, of course, would go on to win that particular competition and Hoops fans will no doubt remember our third round Carling Cup defeat of Villa back in September 2008.

Damion Stewart's second-half header sealed a memorable victory in the Midlands.

This time, it was the bread and butter of the league campaign, but a similar result would have provided a timely tonic for QPR in the battle to beat the drop.

Seven points separated these two prior to kick-off. The R's knew that a win would close the gap on hosts Villa and, with that, increase the distance between themselves and the bottom three.

The conditions were bitter but Rangers made a dream start, taking the lead after only 12 minutes.

Neat interplay in midfield involving Derry and Mackie concluded with the ball finding Wright-Phillips, whose scuffed shot fell into the path of Cisse in the box.

The R's debutant needed no second invitation thereafter, lashing an unstoppable drive into the left-hand corner of the net, leaving Villa keeper Shay Given with no chance.

The home side responded two minutes later, with Bent shooting straight at Kenny from just outside the penalty area.

But Rangers - and Cisse - almost added a second goal under a minute later.

Barton picked up possession down the left-hand channel and, when the Liverpudlian's clip into the box found Cisse at the back post, his downward volley was collected by Given.

Play soon switched to the opposite end, where Ciaran Clark fired an effort into the hands of Kenny, following Stiliyan Petrov's knock-down.

QPR's second goal of the night eventually arrived just short of the half-hour mark - that thanks to helping hand from the home side.

Wright-Phillips found the advancing Taiwo on the left and, when his looping centre fell to Warnock in the box, the Villa defender got his attempted cushioned header back to Given all wrong, diverting the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

Despite going two behind, Villa raised their performance as the half wore on.

Rangers had Kenny to thank for a fine point-blank save from Richard Dunne's header on 33 minutes, following Petrov's corner from the right.

Soon after, Robbie Keane saw an effort from the edge of the box deflect off Derry and crash back off the bar.

Bent then saw a header go just wide after Hutton's centre on 41 minutes - but the England hot-shot didn't spurn his next opportunity, halving the deficit on the stroke of half-time.

Stephen Ireland and Keane combined to free Hutton down the right-hand side of the box, before the Scot's low centre was fired home by Bent.

Villa continued to threaten at the start of the second period.

Kenny was forced into a low stop to block away Petrov's stinging effort on 50 minutes, after the R's failed to clear their lines following a free-kick.

Alex McLeish's side then had strong appeals for a penalty waived away, after Petrov's shot appeared to clatter against the outstretched arm of Derry in the box.

The home side's strong start to the second half saw Rangers chief Hughes take action, with Tommy Smith brought on to replace Hulse.

However, Villa siege continued. Kenny was forced into a superb low save to thwart Keane, before Rangers cleared the danger.

At the other end, Taiwo's low shot from an acute angle was taken at the second attempt by Given, before Mackie somehow swiped at Wright-Phillips' cross-come-shot without connecting from close range.

But the R's were still defending for their lives. Bent was unlucky not to see his header creep in at the right-hand post, following Hutton's centre from the right.

Villa's unrelenting pressure forced Hughes into another substitution in the 73rd minute, with Hogan Ephraim replacing Derry. That also saw QPR adopt a 4-1-4-1 formation.

The change in personnel - and shape - couldn't halt the home side's revival, however, with Villa notching a deserved leveller 11 minutes from time.

Ireland picked out Keane down the right and, when his cross found N'Zogbia at the back post, he drilled a low effort into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Villa almost struck a winner with seven minutes left on the clock.

Petrov's corner eventually fell to Bent, whose snap-shot was cleared off the line by Smith, before Keane's second effort was blocked away by Mackie for a corner.

N'Zogbia's blast from 20 yards was then tipped away by the diving right arm of Kenny four minutes from time.

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Petrov, Clark (Bannan 70), Ireland, Keane, N'Zogbia, Bent.

Subs: Guzan, Weimann, Baker, Lichaj, Heskey, Gardner.

Goals: Bent (45), N'Zogbia (79)

QPR: Kenny, Derry (Ephraim 73), Mackie, Barton, Young, Hulse (Smith 54), Cisse (Macheda 81), Wright-Phillips, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha.

Subs: Cerny, Hill, Hall, Ephraim, Balanta.

Goals: Cisse (12), Warnock (OG 29)

Bookings: Young (50)

Referee: Mr N Swarbrick

Attendance: 32,063

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