QPR trample Chelsea title hopes to kick start revival
CHELSEA 0 vs QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1
QUEENS Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp toasted one of the greatest nights of his long career after the Premier League’s bottom club delivered a huge blow to the European champions’ title ambitions.
Former Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips climbed off the bench to rifle the winner against his old team and earn QPR’s first league victory at Stamford Bridge since 4 April 1983. Defeat left the Blues 14 points adrift of leaders Manchester United but a first away win since November 2011 breathed new life into their west London rivals’ hopes of avoiding the drop.
“I can’t remember having many better wins than this. Chelsea are absolutely flying at the moment and, on the back of our defeats against Liverpool and West Brom, it was a great result for us,” said Redknapp.
“Everybody probably thought I was mad when I said we could stay up after the Liverpool game but I genuinely believe we can turn it around. Tonight has proved that.”
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez had no regrets about resting stars Ashley Cole, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, despite the damaging defeat.
“We can’t carry on with the same players every game,” he said. “If you are playing against a team that is bottom of the table at home then you have to trust your players and I trust them. I thought they were doing well and I thought that would be fine, but maybe in odd areas we were tired.”
A listless match sparked into life after half-time when Blues winger Marko Marin flashed across goal but Victor Moses failed to provide the necessary touch, and Branislav Ivanovic headed over from a corner.
QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar then denied Fernando Torres from point-blank range before the visitors finally tested Chelsea, Esteban Granero forcing a save from Turnbull and Gary Cahill’s tackle denying Jamie Mackie.
Frank Lampard thought he had earned the hosts a fifth consecutive win when he slammed home a loose ball, only for it to be disallowed for offside, before substitute Wright-Phillips stunned his old team.
Chelsea only half-cleared a corner, allowing Adel Taarabt to tee up Wright-Phillips on the edge of the penalty box, and the winger drilled through a crowd for his first goal since May 2010.