When asked at the start of the season how he thought Adel Taarabt would fare in the Premier League, Harry Redknapp ventured the opinion that the player whom he let go to QPR for around £1m in 2010 would start the campaign in scorching form before fizzling out.
It turns out Redknapp was describing Tottenham's season. Taarabt's goal from a long-range free-kick increased his team's chance of avoiding relegation and jeopardised Tottenham's hopes of reaching the Champions League. A red card for a second bookable offence 13 minutes from time tarnished Taarabt's day but did not deprive QPR of a precious win.
Newcastle's victory earlier in the day meant Tottenham dropped out of the top four for the first time this year and they started as if determined to climb straight back into it, with Kyle Walker making in-roads down the right in the first minute before Benoit Assou-Ekotto lashed a 20-yard shot over the bar. The question, however, was whether Spurs would be able to sustain such menace: Harry Redknapp's team had looked jaded in the weeks before this game, collecting a solitary league win from their previous eight outings.
QPR, invigorated by three straight home victories, soon wrestled the initiative from the visitors, mainly through superior dynamism and cohesion.
Jamie Mackie demonstrated this in the third minute, when through strength of will as much as any trickery, he dispossessed Luka Modric wide on the right dashed past Gareth Bale and Assou-Ekotto before shooting wide from the edge of the area. Samba Diakite embarked on a similar run moments later, and also concluded it with a wayward shot. The side fighting relegation were giving as good as they got against the Champions League aspirants. With both sides deploying five across midfield, space was rare in the centre, yet Bale spent most of his time there rather than on the left and exerted little influence in an area where Diakite was outstanding. Bale did have a clear chance to open the scoring in the 19th minute, however, when a corner from Rafael van der Vaart landed on his head. Paddy Kenny tipped his shot over. Van der Vaart played the next corner short to Modric and then took the return before firing at Kenny from distance. Again the keeper saved.
In the 23rd minute, Taarabt showed how to beat a 'keeper from long range. He curled a 25-yard free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner, though it would not have got there if Brad Friedel had shifted across his goal more swiftly. Jermain Defoe missed a glaring chance to equalise on the half-hour mark, nodding over from six yards after Kenny had parried a Van Der Vaart shot.
QPR were comfortable but that changed in the 77th minute when Taarabt became the eighth QPR player to be sent off this season, receiving a second yellow card for kicking the ball away after Spurs were awarded a free-kick. The 10 men defended valiantly, Kenny sealing victory with two late saves.
Sunday Indo Sport