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Queens Park Rangers face a difficult challenge to retain their Barclays Premier League status after this defeat to Everton, who are three points off fourth place.
A deflected first-half strike from Darron Gibson – Everton’s 50th goal in the Premier League this season - and a smart finish from Victor Anichebe early in the second half secured a deserved victory for the hosts.
With five matches remaining the Londoners are seven points from safety and they face Stoke City and Reading in their next two games - the clubs closest to them in their remaining fixtures. Everton continued their rich vein of form, in which they have picked up four wins in their last five league matches.
In the fourth minute, QPR’s Junior Hoilett’s curling effort was denied after Andros Townsend’s 40-yard run at the centre of the defence, while their best opportunity in the first half was Loic Remy’s powerful effort, which Tim Howard parried for a corner.
Everton toiled for the opening 40 minutes without really opening up the visitors. Anichebe was inches away from connecting with Leighton Baines’ cross while Phil Jagielka failed to get his head on to the England left-back’s inswinging corner.
Baines, who prior to this match had created more chances for his team-mates than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, again provided an opportunity when he cut back a right-sided free-kick to Gibson outside the box. The Republic of Ireland international rolled a pass intended for Marouane Fellaini, Everton’s top scorer returning after suspension, only for Sylvain Distin to get there first but bundle his shot wide from eight yards out.
When the home side took the lead it was through a stroke of luck as Gibson’s long-range strike took a significant deflection off Clint Hill to leave goalkeeper Julio Cesar helpless.
Everton started strongly in the second half and Anichebe’s close-range shot rebounded off a post and along the goalline, where Jose Bosingwa cleared despite his awkward position before Distin had a header palmed away by Julio Cesar and Jagielka a shot blocked by crowd of bodies.
The hosts’ efforts were rewarded in the 56th minute when Distin headed goalwards and Anichebe neatly hooked home a close-range shot.
The introduction of playmaker Adel Taarabt added some extra impetus for the visitors in the final half-hour and full-back Nedum Onuoha forced the Howard into a save, but Everton secured the win that moved them to within three points of Champions League qualification.
Everton manager David Moyes: "It's a really important three points, because I was worried about today's game. QPR have a lot to play for and they are almost getting to a situation where they don't have much to play for.
"We played well at times, the pitch is very poor at the minute and that is not helping us but we got the goals that mattered. If we beat Arsenal in midweek we can talk about the Champions League but if we lose we are talking about a Europa League place."
QPR manager Harry Redknapp: "It is another blow. Goodison is always a difficult place to come but at half-time we were unfortunate to be 1-0 down. The goal was a massive deflection and we came in at half-time feeling sorry for ourselves. You have to keep going. We can't suddenly feel sorry for ourselves - but we started sloppy and became undisciplined, got yellow cards and started kicking the ball away. We didn't do ourselves any favours."
"I can't stand there and say, 'No [we can't do it]', if it's a no I may as well go on holiday now. We have to believe. We have to beat Stoke, we have to beat Reading, then Newcastle and Arsenal. I know it's tough but while you've got a chance you have to keep going."
|20 Apr 2013||v Sunderland (A)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Fulham (H)|
|19 May 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|16 Apr 2013||v Arsenal (A)|
|05 May 2013||v Liverpool (A)|
|12 May 2013||v West Ham (H)|