Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: QPR 3 Liverpool 2

Only time will tell whether this was the night. But, as Rangers completed the most remarkable of comebacks, it felt like it was. From being consigned to Premier League relegation fodder with less than a quarter of an hour left, over-run and out-played by Liverpool, they somehow dragged themselves back from the brink and out of the bottom three.

Now they will, surely, believe. They will believe they can stay up, defy the odds, and turn over the critics. Manager Mark Hughes spoke of how this could be the “moment”, the rallying point when he got his message across to a group of players who seemed subsumed in their own faltering ability to get out of a mess of their own creation.

But how could this result have possibly happened? When the substituted Joey Barton, Rangers’ captain, was booed off after a wretched performance, it seemed to symbolise the folly of this project, given the inflated wages he is on and the minimum effect he has had. When Dirk Kuyt stabbed home Liverpool’s second goal, it was like a dagger to the heart of the home supporters.

Liverpool should have been out of sight by then, never mind two goals to the good. And as Hughes bristled with pride at the end, his Liverpool counterpart, Kenny Daglish, was as prickly as a hedgehog. He fielded four — possibly five — post-match questions before darting for the exit. “I don’t think anybody saw that coming,” he said of the result. “There is not much more we can say. I don’t have any answers as to what happened.” No one did. No one who attended this encounter would have placed even the smallest bet on Rangers, as Kuyt wheeled away in celebration to add the second goal to a quite brilliant strike from substitute Sebastian Coates.

Liverpool were utterly dominant — if maddeningly wasteful — and Rangers appeared increasingly ragged. That two of their goals were claimed by Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie — players with huge hearts and indefatigable efforts — was so very apt.

Mackie had replaced Barton and might have convinced Hughes that, with nine matches, nine cup finals, to go, he deserves a place ahead of the midfielder. Maybe Liverpool were also dreaming of cup finals. But that wasn’t it. They have captured the Carling Cup, they are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but there was no lack of appetite — and bite — as they swarmed around opponents who appeared not only shell-shocked but spiralling out of the top-flight.

“Most of the game we were dominant, creative, thoughtful and professional,” Dalglish said. That was all true, but the key word was “most”. What is so engaging about sport, particularly football, is the knowledge that no matter how beaten a team is, something can happen. Too much of the Premier League runs on pure emotion but sometimes that simply cannot be denied. Sometimes it simply has to be embraced, just as the Rangers fans embraced each other in intoxicating disbelief at that final whistle.

From the first whistle, their team had been in trouble. Dalglish stated that Liverpool should have been “three, four” goals to the good by half-time – and that was no exaggeration. Luis Suárez missed a one-on-one, a Kuyt shot was hacked off the line and the ball ping-ponged around the Rangers area. They simply could not clear and, sometimes, simply could not find a team-mate.

There was a skimming, low shot from the defiant Djibril Cisse but, frankly, they were in all kinds of difficulties and never appeared capable of holding on. Even so, it took an astonishing strike to open the scoring, with Stewart Downing’s low shot from a corner cleared off the line. It looped up to Coates, whose scissor- kick powered into the net. It was reminiscent of a strike by Hughes in his pomp.

It was stunning – and stunned Rangers. Suárez then hit a post, with the rebound falling to Downing, who drew a superb block from Paddy Kenny only for Kuyt to pounce on the ball. Surely the game was over? Even when Derry. improbably, twisted to head in from a corner, it barely registered. But then substitute Taye Taiwo scampered down the left and an unmarked Cisse also headed home.

Somehow Rangers had claimed a point. But then it was all three. Luke Young headed the ball towards the penalty area and, vitally, Jose Enrique slipped. It left Mackie through on goal and he had the composure to slide the ball beyond Pepe Reina. “It is right up there,” Hughes said when asked where this night ranked for him as a manager. “We hope we might look back and say that this was the time it changed for us.”

Queens Park Rangers (4-4-2): Kenny, Young, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Traore (Taiwo 46), Barton (Mackie 62) Derry, Diakite, Taarabt, Zamora, Cisse (Buzsaky 88) Subs: Cerny (gk), Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Wright-Phillips. Goals: Derry 77, Cisse 86, Mackie 90

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina, Kelly (Coates 34) Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Adam (Henderson 46), Kuyt, Gerrard, Downing, Spearing, Suarez (Carroll 82). Subs: Doni (gk), Aurelio, Shelvey, Flanagan. Goals: Coates 54, Kuyt 72

Referee: H Webb (Yorkshire).
Att: 18,033

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