Premier League Review
Game of the Weekend: QPR 3-1 Sunderland
QPR enhanced their Premier League survival prospects with a resounding win against Sunderland at Loftus Road. Harry Redknapp’s men are starting to hit form at just the right time with their newly discovered ability to score goals combined with a sturdy defensive unit has earned them back-to-back top-flight victories for the first time since December 1995. And while the optimism levels are rising in the Rangers camp the story couldn’t be anymore different for Sunderland as they limped to a third defeat in four games. The visitors’ threadbare squad has struggled to cope in recent weeks with the fear of being sucked towards the bottom continuing to grow but their luck appeared to have changed when Steven Fletcher put the finishing touches to a swift counter attack when he touched in Adam Johnson’s low cross in the 20th minute. Going behind only served to spur the home side on and they were level within in 10 minutes. Andros Townsend tried his luck from range and when his effort was deflected into the path of Loic Remy the £8 million January signing didn’t hesitate before cooly slotting the ball past Simon Mignolet. Sadly for QPR the half time whistle only served to stifle their momentum but they were reenergised in the 70th minute by a picture book goal from Townsend. The Tottenham loanee had acres to chest down a headed clearance and send a dipping volley into the net from 25-yards. Jermaine Jenas, another arrival from Spurs, applied the seal in injury time when smashed home from the edge of area to breathe new life into Redknapp’s latest ‘Great Escape’ mission.
Rounding up the rest…
West Brom gave their European ambitions a major boost after beating Swansea in fortuitous circumstances at the Hawthorns. The Baggies were punished for a sluggish start when Luke Moore headed in Ben Davies’ left wing cross just after the half hour but were level seven minutes later. Graham Dorrans delivered a first time cross to the near post for Romelu Lukaku to score the 13th goal of a very impressive season. The Belgian forward then passed up the opportunity to send his side into half time with a 2-1 lead after Michel Vorm easily saved his tame penalty. However his blushes were spared on the hour mark when Gareth McAuley flicked on a corner and Angel Rangel’s header cannoned off the unfortunate Jonathan De Guzman and into the net. With the clock ticking down Swansea went in search of an equaliser and were incensed when substitute Roland Lamah had a goal controversially ruled out three minutes from the end.
Aston Villa came from behind to beat fellow struggles Reading at the Madjeski Stadium and move themselves out of bottom three. Paul Lambert’s men recorded only their second win of 2013 to give them hope of staying in the top-flight but had to do it the hard way after Nathan Baker sliced the ball into his own net on the half hour from Jobi McAnuff’s cross. But just a minute later Christian Benteke saw his deflected shot beat Stuart Taylor in the Royals goal to restore parity. It got even better for the visitors on the stroke of half time as their growing confidence produced another goal. Gabriel Agbonlahor was the man on hand as he seized upon a poor clearance from Taylor to slam an unstoppable shot into the top corner from six-yards. The home side toiled in search of an equaliser and thought they’d salvaged a point when Noel Hunt finished neatly but was ruled out for offside on a day when defeat for Brian McDermott and his players plunges them deeper towards a Championship return.
Artur Boruc saved an injury time penalty to earn Southampton a point against Norwich at Carrow Road. An uneventful game sparked into life in added on time when Luke Shaw was penalised for an innocuous trip on Grant Holt. The Canaries skipper took up the spot kick duties himself only for Boruc to guess right as the Saints avoided a third straight defeat.