QPR hopes of survival recede but they refuse to go quietly
Berbatov double helps Fulham earn the points
Andros Townsend (left) of Queens Park Rangers is challenged by Philippe Senderos of Fulham at Craven Cottage. Photograph: Getty
Date: 1 April, 2013
Venue: Craven Cottage
When Queens Park Rangers defend this badly and Christopher Samba can make such a mockery of his €14.8 million January transfer fee, it does not take a genius to see why they look bound for a calamitous relegation.
And yet they refuse to go quietly. Fulham looked home and hosed when Clint Hill’s own goal put them 3-0 in front but Harry Redknapp’s team showed the heart for the battle to threaten the most outlandish of comebacks. Loic Remy missed a penalty either side of goals from Adel Taarabt and the France striker himself, and his team strained every sinew to find the equaliser.
When Steve Sidwell stretched into a late challenge on Armand Traore to incur a 78th-minute red card that felt as though it should have been only yellow, the odds swung further in Rangers’ favour. Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov-inspired domination of the first half had been absolute yet the memory seemed distant.
Fulham, though, wriggled home to leave Rangers on the floor. A draw probably would not have done much for Redknapp’s survival hopes but the defeat felt terminal. Redknapp had set up to carry the offensive fight but his team were undermined at the outset by a defensive error to have him cursing.
Samba had muscled Dimitar Berbatov off the ball, inside the area but, after taking a heavy touch, he did not seem to be aware of Ashkan Dejagah, who stole in to pick his pocket. Samba swung his leg, almost in slow motion, to concede the clearest of penalties and Berbatov tucked it away without missing a heartbeat. Samba’s misery, though, was just beginning.
As the last man, he dwelled under pressure from Damien Duff and jabbed the ball to Berbatov, who eased into space and beat Julio Cesar with the outside of his right foot.