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Sergio Aguero's tenacity rescues outfought Man City

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Manchester City's Bacary Sagna and Queens Park Rangers' Leroy Fer battle for the ball

Manchester City's Bacary Sagna and Queens Park Rangers' Leroy Fer battle for the ball

PA

Mauricio Isla of QPR reacts as he is shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean

Mauricio Isla of QPR reacts as he is shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean

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Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores his sides second goal of the game

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores his sides second goal of the game

PA

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Manchester City's Bacary Sagna and Queens Park Rangers' Leroy Fer battle for the ball

For hours before the game, the Loftus Road pitch had been pelted by a torrential rainstorm, greasing the turf, adding just a little extra spice to every pass and tackle. Redknapp went with a 4-4-2, which he does not do so often these days. Instead he tends to save it for special occasions, like a bottle of particularly strong brandy.

And against a City defence missing the injured Vincent Kompany, and often lacking sufficient cover, the twin threats of Austin and Bobby Zamora wreaked havoc.

QPR even suffered the rare fate of having two goals disallowed in the space of about 30 seconds. First Austin, several yards offside, headed in a cross from Eduardo Vargas. Then, as Joe Hart tried to take the free-kick short with his right foot, he accidentally nudged the ball with his left. It was the sort of error that would be greeted by derisory laughter in the playground, never mind the Premier League. Austin's goal was ruled out only because the ball failed to get out of the penalty area, rendering the free-kick illegal.

City failed to heed those early warnings, which rather epitomised an opening half-hour in which they were in most respects utterly shambolic, unable to pass the ball over any distance.

Yaya Toure sprayed the ball straight out of play. Sandro's volley was blocked by what looked suspiciously like Gael Clichy's hand.

Remember that slippery turf? In the 20th minute, as Mauricio Isla shuffled up the right wing Clichy went sprawling on it at just the wrong moment, allowing Isla a free run at goal. His pass found Austin 12 yards out, and having had plenty of practice, he was not going to miss the net this time. It was his sixth league goal of the season.

QPR were the better side by a distance: better tactics, better passing, better tackling, more desire.

And yet, against all of this: Aguero. Aguero is one of those players with absolutely zero regard for the narrative thread of a game. Eliaquim Mangala's high, hopeful ball over the top of the QPR defence looked utterly aimless. And yet with Aguero, no cause is ever quite lost.

Aguero brought the ball down brilliantly, sticking out his big toenail and gathering it in effortlessly. He turned inside Steven Caulker, although not without a suspicion of handball. At this point, most strikers would still have a lot to do, but there is a certain inevitability to Aguero in this form, like the plot of a particularly formulaic Hollywood blockbuster. The power of his shot is extraordinary. Robert Green knew where it was going, knew he could do nothing.

And then, as if Aguero's goal had never happened, QPR poured forward again.

Hart saved from Austin twice from close range, the second time after a calamitous mistake by Fernando. Early in the second half, substitute Joey Barton - one of those players you forget is occasionally good at football - played a wonderful through ball into the path of Zamora, whose cross to an unmarked Austin lacked weight.

QPR had thrown everything at City. They had put the ball in the net three times. They had gone close on numerous other occasions. They had outthought and outfought the champions, and yet they were only level. It would have been easy for the home side to retreat, to allow natural gravity to reassert itself. Yet still they poured forward. Their second goal may have been a freak, but it was no fluke. It was a perfect example of wanting it more. Zamora sprinted forward, desperate to get into the area. Clichy held back, not desperate enough to stop Austin's cross. Zamora leapt, but the final touch actually came off Martin Demichelis: a deserved own goal, insofar as such a thing is possible.

QPR had 15 minutes to hold on, but just as the finish line hovered into view, nerves began to take hold. Barton's suicidal header back to the goalkeeper was intercepted by Aguero, who rounded Green and shot from a narrow angle, but Richard Dunne cleared off the line.

However, the striker wasn't to be denied in the 83rd minute. Toure found Aguero, who again bamboozled the QPR defence before firing in past Green and three defenders.

Sunday Indo Sport