London: A goal in the dying moments from Djibril Cisse earned all three points for Queens Park Rangers as they beat Stoke City 1-0 in the Premier League. A late corner provided the in form striker with a tap in, after a poor showing from both sides in which neither created anything outstanding.
QPR were looking for a crucial win in their fight against relegation, with only goal difference keeping them out of the drop zone. They were hoping their good home form, wining their last four at Loftus Road, while taking advantage of the Potters poor away form this season, would help them secure a crucial three points.
Mark Hughes made only one change to the team that was thrashed 6-1 by west London rivals Chelsea, Adel Taarabt returning from suspension to the starting line up in place of Djibril Cisse. Stoke City enter their 58th game of the season with only one win in their last nine matches and will be hoping to end a gruelling season on a high. Tony Pulis has made four changes to the side that drew to Everton midweek, with Asmir Begovic being replaced in goal by replacing Thomas Sorensen. Glenn Whelen comes in for Dean Whitebread and Ricardo Fuller and Cameron Jerome also start in place of Kenwyne Jones and Matthew Etherington.
The hosts began the game well, with Jamie Mackie attacking down the right from the off, pulling his cross back and providing a good chance for Taarabt, but the Moroccan couldnt get on the end of it. Moments late Cameron Jerome spurned a glorious opportunity to put Stoke in the lead early on. Peter Crouch flicked the ball into the strikers path, but he snatched at his shot from eight yards out and sliced it wide.
Taarabt continued to look lively within the first quarter of an hour, winning a free kick for his side after a nice piece of skill to evade Marc Wilson. The former Tottenham player then took the set piece, which was heading for the bottom left hand corner, if not for a very good save from Sorenson, who parried it out. Joey Barton almost latched on to the rebound, but instead of giving it to the unmarked Bobby Zamora in the box, he could only hit the side netting.
Both teams were looking to attack within the first half hour, but neither could retain possession for long enough to create anything substantial. The home side then had to defend against several Rory Delap throw-ins and Stoke set pieces but none provided any clear cut chances for the visitors.
The Hoops began to pile on the pressure, earning two more free kicks courtesy of Taarabt who was looking the most likely to make the difference, but neither set pieces troubled Tony Pulis defence too much.
Joey Barton than had a good effort from just outside the box, trying to place his shot beyond Sorensen, but the Denmark international was able to watch the ball head over the bar.
Zamora then won the ball from Matthew Upson high up the pitch after the defender was caught hesitating on the ball. The former Fulham man drove at the Stoke box and provided a delightful cross for Barton, the midfielder should have scored with a free header but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Just before the first half ended, a swift counter attack from the home side almost broke the deadlock, with some nice interplay ending in Zamora rolling the ball into the path of Mackie, but Sorensen rushed out bravely to gather.
Stoke began the second half strongest, with Crouch having a free header in the box, however he couldnt force a save from the keeper, as he completely missed the target. Minutes later, Ricardo Fuller had a superb curling effort, but his shot also sailed just wide of the far post.
Much like the first half both teams continued to attack and attempt to go ahead, but neither could create anything, with the defences standing tall for each side. On the hour QPR had a free kick from a promising position 20 yards out, with Taye Taiwo the taker, however the full back could only drive the ball into the wall. The ball rebounded back to the Nigerian, but his second effort was also blocked.
Substitute Cisse had the best chance of the half, producing a fantastic save from Sorensen. The Frenchman got ahead of his marker to head towards goal, but the outstretched arm of the Danish keeper denied the striker from putting QPR in the lead going into the final ten minutes.
With only a minute left of normal time, the January signing may have made his biggest contribution so far, scoring a crucial goal for QPR as he finished an easy tap in from four yards out. Nedum Onuhua rose high to head on the incoming ball to the back post from the corner, and Cisse had an easy chance to finish and seal a crucial victory for Mark Hughes' side.