independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Redknapp starts with draw

Steven Fletcher, right, wasted two good chances to score for Sunderland

Substitute Rob Green ensured Harry Redknapp's rein as QPR boss started with a positive result after making a stunning save to deny Steven Fletcher in a goalless draw with Sunderland.

The former England keeper somehow clawed away the Scotland international's 64th-minute header, after replacing the injured Julio Cesar, who had earlier made a vital block to deny Fletcher, at the break and stood firm as the visitors turned in a spirited display at the Stadium of Light.

Home keeper Simon Mignolet also had to be at his best to keep out Sunderland old boy Djibril Cisse as well as Jamie Mackie, and he was relieved to see midfielder Stephane Mbia blast a long-range effort inches wide.

Ultimately, Redknapp's men left the north-east still without a league win this season, but with a fifth point of the campaign which extended the Black Cats' difficult run to just two wins in 21 outings.

Cisse might have got Rangers off to the perfect start when Adel Taarabt picked him out with a fourth-minute cross, but his downward header ended up safely in the arms of Mignolet.

Sunderland were forced into an early reshuffle after O'Neill's gamble on skipper Lee Cattermole's knee injury backfired when he limped off following a challenge with Samba Diakite. Cisse smashed a 19th-minute drive just wide, while Mignolet had to make a vital block to keep out Mackie seven minutes from time.

Fletcher got his first sniff of goal four minutes before the break after being played in by Adam Johnson, but he found Cesar equal to the task.

Cesar, who had picked up a knock during the first half, failed to re-appear after the break and was replaced by Green, and it was his side who threatened first after the restart when Esteban Granero headed Armand Traore's cross straight at the keeper.

Green had to demonstrate his enduring quality with 64 minutes gone when Fletcher met Sebastian Larsson's inswinging corner with a downward header which the keeper somehow managed to block one-handed and then clutch to his body.

Larsson tested Green with a skidding strike from distance nine minutes from time. Rangers might have snatched victory at the death when Cisse, Granero and Mackie combined to set up substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips, only for Mignolet to block with his legs.

Press Association

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