Queens Park Rangers picked up an important three points in the relegation battle, as they beat fellow strugglers Southampton 2-1.
Loic Remy opened the scoring on 14 minutes with Rangers’ first opportunity of the match, when he latched onto a Junior Hoillet through ball. Gaston Ramirez equalised for Southampton on the stroke of half time, when Cesar fumbled Rodriguez’s shot.
QPR secured the 2-1 victory in the 77th minute, when Jay Bothroyd tapped home easily from Park Ji-Sung’s low cross. QPR now lie four points from safety, whereas Southampton are now dragged back into the relegation battle.
The R’s victory could not have come at a better time, after The Mirror quoted three “senior players” who described the West Londoners training camp as like a “stag party”. Manager Harry Redknapp rebuffed these claims in his post-match press conference, describing them as “total rubbish”.
Redknapp was met with a hostile reception from the Southampton faithful as he made his return to St Mary’s. The former Southampton and Portsmouth manager booed by the home fans as he emerged from the tunnel for the first time since leaving the club in 2005, when he returned to Saints’ bitter rivals Portsmouth.
With both Redknapp and Southampton manager Pochettino, both sides were eager to give their manager the perfect birthday present and help push to avoid relegation.
Redknapp’s QPR side had to withstand early pressure, as Southampton started strongly. They had the best early chance when Rickie Lambert headed across goal in the 10th minute, but neither Lallana or Puncheon could convert.
Despite the early pressure, Southampton failed to score and were caught out by a clinical counter-attack from QPR on 14 minutes. Junior Hoillet’s through ball caught the Southampton defence napping, allowing Rangers striker Loic Remy to slot the ball home in front of the 3,194 away fans.
With Southampton players and fans deflated, QPR took control of the match, with Remy causing Southampton left-back Danny Fox a constant problem.
Injury to Adam Lallana meant Jay Rodriguez was introduced. The 23-year-old striker’s shot in the first minute of first half injury time was fumbled by Rangers goalkeeper Julio Cesar, allowing Gaston Ramirez to chip the equaliser for Southampton. The sides went into the break with the score at 1-1.
As in the first half, Saints started the brighter of the two teams. Rodriguez and Jose Fonte had long range efforts early in the second half.
However, it was QPR who regained the lead again in the 77th minute. Park Ji-Sung beat two defenders down the Southampton left, before crossing low for Jay Bothroyd, giving the striker an easy finish.
After injury forced Cesar to withdraw, replacement goalkeeper Rob Green did well to keep Rangers ahead, saving excellently from a Fonte header in the 86th minute.
Six minutes of added time wasn’t enough for Southampton to secure an equaliser and QPR recorded an important away victory, giving their manager the best birthday present he could have wished for.