Away day joy at last for Rangers

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Published: Tuesday 10th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Caretaker boss Chris Ramsey presided over QPR’s first Barclays Premier League away win of the season as chairman Tony Fernandes closed in on his new manager.

Hours before kick-off Fernandes revealed his hope that he had got his man, sending Michael Laudrup’s odds tumbling, and spirits within the camp soared, with first-half goals from Leroy Fer and Bobby Zamora setting the club on their way to three points on the road after 11 successive defeats.

The 2-0 success was QPR’s first win away from Loftus Road since their play-off final victory over Derby at Wembley on May 24 last year and was witnessed by only 395 travelling fans among a crowd of 39,077 at the Stadium of Light.

However, it took two fine saves by goalkeeper Rob Green to deny first Connor Wickham and then Jermain Defoe either side of half-time to preserve the clean sheet and deny Sunderland a way back into the game.

Gus Poyet’s men, who were unbeaten in four matches in all competitions before kick-off, were dreadful for much of the game and even the in-form Defoe could not get them out of jail as they succumbed to the same opposition for the second time this season.

Fernandes set tongues wagging among the visiting fraternity on Wearside when he suggested via his Twitter account that the search for Harry Redknapp’s replacement was close to an end.

He tweeted: “Think I have got my dream manager. Not what anyone thinks. Take a while. Still a bit to go but I’m very happy. Press all wrong.”

In the meantime, it was Ramsey’s task to end the club’s appalling away record and he made six changes to the side which succumbed 1-0 to Southampton at the weekend, several of them enforced by injury.

The visitors could hardly have made a better fist of it before the break as they took advantage of a monumentally inept display by the Black Cats to give themselves every hope of addressing their chronic bout of travel sickness.

Sunderland were spectacularly lethargic from the off and were punished in brutal fashion with 17 minutes gone when Matt Phillips, who terrorised full-back Patrick van Aanholt throughout, crossed for Fer to head firmly past Costel Pantilimon.

The Dutchman was unfortunate not to double his tally on the half hour when, after Phillips had skipped past Van Aanholt and squared for him, his side-footed effort came back off a post and ran agonisingly along the goal line before an offside flag spared Sunderland’s blushes.

The in-form Defoe might have collected his third goal for the club he joined last month seconds later, but guided his close-range shot from Jordi Gomez’s shot wide of the far post, while strike-partner Wickham was denied by a combination of keeper Green and the woodwork 10 minutes before the break.

Wickham met Adam Johnson’s inswinging cross with a powerful header, which Green managed to turn on to the bar before beating away the rebound, with goal-line technology confirming his heroics.

But the Black Cats’ hopes of dragging themselves back into the game suffered a further blow in stoppage time when Phillips picked out Zamora inside the area and he lashed an unstoppable right-foot shot past the helpless Pantilimon and into the top corner.

Poyet replaced Gomez with Ricky Alvarez at the break and whatever message the Uruguayan had left ringing in the ears of his players appeared to have got through as they resumed in much more determined fashion.

Rangers were dealt a blow just seven minutes into the half when Phillips departed to be replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips, but they were not unduly affected by the change.

However, as time ran down, Sunderland began to establish a momentum and Green had to make a second reaction save, this time to keep out Defoe’s 66th-minute flick from Johnson’s cross, and Alvarez forced him into a diving stop four minutes later with the pressure mounting.

The home side battered away at the visitors right up to the final whistle, with the locals repeatedly imploring referee Martin Atkinson to award a penalty as Rangers put their bodies on the line, but ultimately to no avail.

Published: Tuesday 10th February 2015 by The News Editor

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