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Ian Cooper, at Loftus Road
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Premier League: QPR 3 Swansea City 0
Joey Barton returned to the QPR line-up in spectacular style as Rangers hammered Swansea City to leap out of the relegation zone on Wednesday night.
The Rs’ captain, rested by Mark Hughes for the 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday, responded by cracking in the crucial opening goal on the stroke of half-time at Loftus Road.
Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky added quick-fire strikes of exceptional quality in the second half as the Hoops secured their third successive home win to move up to 16th in the table.
Victory was particularly sweet for QPR’s controversial skipper, who, three weeks after he was booed off by his own fans against Liverpool, hit back with arguably his finest display of the season.
Rangers lined up in the 4-2-3-1 formation which served them so well in the win over Arsenal in their last home match, with Bobby Zamora also returning to the starting line-up.
Swansea, who have won so many plaudits for their passing game this season, began confidently, tapping the ball around midfield and preventing the Rs from building any early momentum.
Of the few early openings which were created however, Rangers enjoyed the better. Buzsaky volleyed a yard wide from the edge of the area, while Mackie should have done better than scuff a tame shot straight at Michel Vorm after Zamora had helped on Samba Diakite’s cross.
At the other end, a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner caused momentary panic in the QPR penalty area, but Scott Sinclair was unable to prod the loose ball home at the back post.
Zamora spurned a presentable opportunity five minutes before half-time. Adel Taarabt’s in-swinging corner was flapped at by Vorm, but Zamora could only lift his shot high over the crossbar.
With the game inching towards deadlock at half-time, Rangers struck through their captain.
Taarabt’s free-kick from the right was not properly cleared, and Barton rifled a shot low past Vorm for his third goal of the season. The goal was followed immediately by the half-time whistle, and the players departed to the sound of the skipper’s name ringing around the Loftus Road stands.
Joe Allen warmed Paddy Kenny’s hands with a shot from distance early in the second half, but the Hoops were to quickly double their lead through a goal of outstanding quality from Mackie.
The winger picked up a pass from defence, rolled Ashley Williams, shifted past Steven Caulker on the edge of the penalty area, and fired home a shot which took a deflection off Angel Rangel.
Swansea responded, and they almost halved the deficit on the hour-mark as Caulker headed a free-kick towards goal, but Clint Hill cleared the ball from a yard in front of the goal-line.
If QPR were comfortable at 2-0, they were home and dry with a three-goal lead. It was supplied in stunning fashion, as Buzsaky let rip from 25 yards with a shot which arrowed past Vorm.
Rangers were suddenly rampant; Onuoha almost added a fourth when he narrowly failed to convert Zamora’s cross, before Barton’s sweet volley was blocked by a defender in the penalty area.
Barton’s cross was headed away from the lurking substitute Jay Bothroyd - brought on in place of the effective Zamora - as the home side played out the final 20 minutes in complete control.
QPR: Kenny, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Hill, Onuoha, Barton, Diakite, Buzsaky, Mackie (Wright-Phillips), Taarabt (Smith), Zamora (Bothroyd).
Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Bothroyd, Young, Smith, Wright-Phillips.
Swansea: Vorm, Williams, Taylor, Caulker, Britton, Graham, Sinclair, Routledge, Rangel, Allen, Sigurdsson. Subs: Tremmel, Tate, Dyer, Monk, McEachran, Moore, Gower.