The Republic of Ireland did superbly to control Danny Guthrie’s pass before beating Luke Young to stroke the ball past Paddy Kenny and into the net to score his first goal since September. It proved to be one of the few bright spots in a dour afternoon on Tyneside that saw Yohan Cabaye stretchered off in the mid-way through the first period as the home side struggled to break down a resolute Rangers back four. The visitors weren’t as potent in attack as they were in defence as they nullified the threat of Shola Ameobi, Best and Hatem Ben Arfa with great ease. New boss Hughes will be more concerned with the minimal impact his forward line offered as Jay Bothroyd and Shaun Wright-Phillips squandered the few decent chances his side created. However on the balance of play the win was deserved for Alan Pardew’s side who have now won two in a row in 2012 to move back into contention for a Europa League place.
You wouldn’t have thought the Magpies were battling for a position in the top six on the evidence of their shaky start to the game as Rangers carved a couple of decent opportunities in the first 10 minutes. Heidar Helguson forced Tim Krul into a smart save before Wright-Phillips saw his drive from 18-yards skim the bar with Dutchman beaten. Akos Buszaky then swerved one wide only for a Cabaye’s injury, following a tough challenge from Shaun Derry, providing a period of respite for Newcastle. Ben Arfa came on to replace his French compatriot but QPR immediately picked up where they left off and Bothroyd went close to breaking the deadlock curling a sumptuous effort beyond Krul that clipped the post on it’s way wide. The hosts seemed to wake up after that and Ryan Taylor forced Kenny into a routine stop with a strike from distance as they turned the tide on the Hoops. Their growing dominance was rewarded eight minutes before half time as Taylor burst forward from midfield and somewhat fortuitously found Best who did brilliantly to slip past Young with some quick feet and dispatch the ball past Kenny for his fourth of the season.
Whatever Hughes said at half time seemed to have an effect on his side after the break as Jamie Mackie shot over after seeing his initial effort blocked whilst Bothroyd wasted two more chances to bring the R’s level. The hosts also had chances to extend their lead with the impressive Davide Santon seeing his strike deflected wide following a good run before Jonas Gutierrez tried his luck from distance as Kenny backtracked after losing possession near the right touchline. Best then had the chance to double his tally but couldn’t find a route to goal after latching onto Ben Arfa’s defence splitting pass. It didn’t matter though as Pardew’s men held on to extend their leapfrog Liverpool into sixth and leave Rangers stranded in the relegation zone.