QPR secure back-to-back wins to keep survival hopes alive
QPR 3-1 Sunderland
JANUARY acquisitions Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas both struck exquisite half-volleys today as QPR's survival hopes received a boost against Sunderland.
The pair may not have got much of a look in under Harry Redknapp when the Rs boss was at Tottenham, but they more than proved their worth today as Rangers earned another invaluable three points.
While QPR remain bottom of the Barclays Premier League and four points adrift of safety, back-to-back victories for the first time since their top-flight return could prove a major catalyst in their survival quest.
There had been fears last weekend's 2-1 win at Southampton could prove to be a flash in the pan, especially when Steven Fletcher put Sunderland ahead after 20 minutes.
However, the hosts rallied and levelled the score on the half-hour mark as a deflected long-range Townsend effort fell kindly for Loic Remy to slot home.
It had looked like the spoils would be shared as both sides struggled in the second half, only for Townsend's moment of magic to change the game.
Substitute Jenas rubbed salt into the wound with an equally-impressive strike late on as Rangers earned a fourth league win of the campaign.
Redknapp spoke of the need for his side to put in a shift in his programme notes and got the desired response in the opening 20 minutes.
After Park Ji-sung charged down a Sebastian Larsson strike, QPR pushed forward and were unfortunate to see Junior Hoilett strike wide in the fourth minute.
The winger, rejuvenated under Redknapp's tutelage, wriggled free down the left and snuck past makeshift right-back Craig Gardner, before firing across the face of goal.
Hoilett continued that duel shortly afterwards, again darting past Gardner before striking wide.
Townsend on the opposite flank was another full of life in the early stages and saw a strike miss the target, while Bobby Zamora saw penalty claims for a push by John O'Shea waved away.
It was the visitors, though, that broke the deadlock when Adam Johnson picked up a Stephane Sessegnon cross at the back post. The former Manchester City winger sent in a fierce cross-shot, which Fletcher turned home with ease from close range.
The Scotland international's 11th goal of the season was harsh on the Rs, who could have fallen further behind seven minutes later when Christopher Samba slipped and Danny Graham was allowed a free header on goal.
Fortunately for the hosts the January signing could not direct his header on goal, allowing QPR to draw parity soon after.
Townsend's long-range strike fortuitously deflected off O'Shea into the path of Remy, who swept home with ease from close range to the delighted of the home support.
The Frenchman's third goal in English football seemed to kick QPR into gear as they dominated the remaining 15 minutes of the first period.
Zamora saw a flick header impressively denied by Simon Mignolet, before the oft-injured forward cutback for strike partner Remy.
The France international could only fire over, with former Marseille team-mate Stephane Mbia next to get a shot away, with Mignolet only able to stop a powerful drive at the second attempt.
The half-time break allowed Sunderland time to settle and they returned strongly.
Barely a minute into second half, Samba had to be alert to deny Graham before Johnson put a fizzing drive narrowly wide.
Clint Hill cleared a threatening Larsson cross as the Black Cats continued to press, switching to a 4-4-1-1 formation as they looked to regain the lead.
Danny Rose came on for Graham as Martin O'Neill shuffled the pack, with the left-back gifting QPR a first chance of the second half soon after coming on.
The 22-year-old was dispossessed by Townsend, another man on loan from Tottenham, who drove forward only to see a long-range strike blocked by O'Shea.
The winger would not be denied for long, though, firing QPR ahead in stunning fashion.
Sunderland cleared a Jose Bosingwa cross out of the box, only for Townsend to control the ball on his chest before firing home a superb 25-yard half volley as Loftus Road erupted.
Bosingwa curled a free-kick wide of near post as the hosts edged a tense final 15 minutes, which came to life once again when Jenas, only on 10 minutes earlier, struck home in style.
Fellow replacement Jamie Mackie saw a late shot saved by Mignolet as the Rs ended on top.