Palace pile pressure on QPR


Published: Saturday 14th March 2015 by The News Editor

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QPR’s Premier League status is looking more precarious than ever after Crystal Palace ran amok in the first half at Selhurst Park.

For a side staring down the barrel of an immediate return to the Championship, Rangers’ capitulation after a solid start was nothing short of embarrassing.

Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Joel Ward all struck what proved decisive first-half efforts as Palace won 3-1, with Matt Phillips’ late goal of the season contender a mere consolation as the west Londoners suffered a ninth defeat in 10 top-flight matches.

This felt like a potentially season-defining performance, never mind result, as Chris Ramsey’s men downed tools after a bright start, with Zaha’s bravery rewarded with the opening goal.

Yannick Bolasie was the architect just as he was for Palace’s second, with McArthur tapping home shortly before Ward netted his first goal for the club.

The Premier League’s worst away side managed to stem the tide in the second half and pulled one back through Phillips’ incredible 40-yard drive – little comfort given defeat leaves them three points from safety.

QPR now have just five points to show from their last 12 top-flight outings, whereas Alan Pardew’s side now look all-but certain to stay up after this win.

Things could have been so much worse had the hosts maintained the dominance they enjoyed after Rangers’ solid start came to an abrupt end.

The ever-impressive Bolasie cut in from the left past Darnell Furlong and played a neat ball through to McArthur, only for a timely Sandro interception to thwart him.

Scott Dann had two headers of differing quality in quick succession as Pardew’s men upped the ante, with the breakthrough arriving in the 21st minute.

Bolasie did the damage, ghosting down the left to send a low, driven cross to the far post, where Zaha turned home under pressure.

It was a goal that came at a cost, though, as the winger’s momentum meant he suffered a nasty collision with the post, leading to several minutes of medical attention.

A standing ovation greeted Zaha when he gingerly trundled back onto the field and he soon made a further impact, firing a shot at Robert Green, unaware offside had been called.

Aside from a Charlie Austin effort, it was one-way traffic as Damien Delaney fizzed an effort wide, Furlong squeezed out Bolasie and Glenn Murray headed over.

It seemed just a matter of time until Palace netted again and so it proved. Bolasie was again allowed to send over a cross and this time McArthur got ahead of Yun Suk-young to tap home from close range.

The collapse did not stop there, though. Zaha was running riot and, despite being hassled by three QPR players, was still able to cut back for Ward, whose shot under pressure from Sandro snuck into the far corner.

Fortunately for QPR, the half-time whistle soon arrived and when the teams returned Clint Hill replaced teenager Furlong.

Palace were soon making changes themselves, with Zaha limping off shortly after Jason Puncheon hobbled down the touchline in pain.

Julian Speroni dashed off his line to deny Shaun Wright-Phillips on a rare QPR voyage forwards, before Austin saw a tame header saved – QPR’s first effort on target in the 72nd minute.

Austin followed up with another shot on target after Steven Caulker’s block denied Murray at the other end, where substitute Dwight Gayle’s free-kick was kept out by Green.

Just as the match was petering out, Phillips injected some life into proceedings, hitting a remarkable drive from 40 yards past Speroni.

Palace fans could only applaud the audacious effort, although it is doubtful they would have done the same had the winger beaten Speroni with another thumping drive shortly afterwards.

The Palace goalkeeper saved that and QPR, try as they might, were unable to do any more damage.

Published: Saturday 14th March 2015 by The News Editor

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