QPR can breathe easy for the first time this season
By Leo Linden
QPR have finally done it. With a 2-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night, Rangers snatched up their first points away from home on what has been a brutal season thus far.
Heading into this week, Rangers were 0-0-11 away from Loftus Road this season. They entered the game with just two points in their last seven EPL games, and it looked like they were destined to slump back to the Championship without a fight.
But Rangers put together one of their best games of the Premiership season to date and cruised past the Black Cats. With just over a quarter
of an hour gone, Matt Phillips whipped in a cross from the right wing that found Leroy Fer, who cooly headed the ball inside the far post for the opener. QPR continued to frustrate their hosts by pressing forward, with Fer unlucky to see his blast ricochet off the post. Just on the stroke of half time, Rangers got their deserved reward. Phillips again played provider, crafting a beautiful low cross toward Bobby Zamora in the area. Zamora caught the ball on the bounce and curled a first-time shot past a staring Costel Pantilimon. The exquisite finish showed just how much class teams in the relegation zone still have. More importantly, it gave the visitors a boost having scored just before the half-time whistle and a cushion for the second half. Sunderland pressed forward in the second half, but the damage had been done. There were a few questionable moments, but Rangers defended well, picked their moments to go forward, and earned a much-needed win.
While many (including myself) assumed this run of losses was going to end eventually, but the fact that it did now was crucial for QPR’s season. The win has catapulted Rangers from 19th place out of the relegation zone, even if only on goal differential. Going forward, QPR has now rid themselves of the mental psyche come from not being able to win on the road. They will hope to put their countless road failures in the back of their minds now and try to move on and stay in the Premier League. Furthermore, they were without star striker Charlie Austin, the third highest scorer in the Premier League. Austin’s goals have been the only factor keeping QPR from being a total disaster so far this season. To win and control a game without his presence is a major confidence-building moment, and is an experience that QPR will need to use to propel themselves forward.
In recent years, QPR have bounced between the top two flights and have not been able to find the key to consistently staying up. That makes it even more crucial that they figure out a way to survive this year. Having just been promoted last season, QPR need to establish themselves as a team that can stay in the Premier League. If this win is the beginning of a charge out of the relegation zone, QPR will have a chance to extend their roots in the Premiership. Beating Sunderland could just be an outlier, and they still may be headed down in a hurry, but that won’t matter to Rangers fans this week.