Landmark hat-trick by Walters sees off QPR
Stoke City 3 QPR 1
With his chin nuzzled into a heavy coat as he attempted to escape the vile Staffordshire wind, Harry Redknapp slunk past Queens Park Rangers dejected supporters a beaten man once more.
For Mark Hughes, revenge was delivered in the cold. Two years after being sacked as their manager, he inflicted another defeat on his old employers as the visiting team extended their record-breaking winless run on the road to 11 miserable matches.
On a day when the 100th anniversary of Stanley Matthews's birth was celebrated, modern history was created by Jonathan Walters, who became the first of Stoke City's players to score a hat-trick in the Premier League era on his 200th appearance for the club.
Having been informed of results elsewhere going in his favour, Redknapp's disposition afterwards was positive, reasoning that QPR deserved more than this, for their second half performance was stirring enough.
"If you see the game and look at the scoreline you think we've been well beaten," he said. "But anyone who understands football will realise Stoke were hanging for grim life at the end. Mark (Hughes) must have been hoping the whistle would go. I couldn't have asked for more effort."
QPR's domination was not quite as absolute as Redknapp suggested, yet they fashioned the better opportunities, the closest of which was a Joey Barton free-kick that punched against the underside of Asmir Begovic's crossbar.
The result means Rangers have lost every game they have played away from Loftus Road this season, representing the worst start to a top-flight campaign since Liverpool were relegated 61 years ago.
Redknapp believes goals will see his team escape the drop and though not confirming his interest in recruiting Emmanuel Adebayor, admitted the Togolese "would do us" if Tottenham made him available.
It is at the other end, though, where QPR seem to have most problems. Theirs is the worst defensive record in the league and it was that department here that cost them the most.
Karl Henry was substituted at half time for his role in Stoke's first goal, in surrendering possession to Stephen Ireland, whose backheel enabled Walters to score. The lead was soon extended when again, Ireland released Walters, with the QPR defenders again marked absent.
Though Niko Kranjcar revived hopes of a comeback, QPR were punished for a third time by Walters in injury time after Redknapp confessed to ordering too many players forward in search of an equaliser. (© Daily Telegraph, London)