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Newcastle United secured their Barclays Premier League status after Yoan Gouffran was gifted the winning goal in a tense 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
Loic Remy gave the home side the lead from the penalty spot, only for Harry Redknapp’s side to squander their early advantage inside seven minutes. Referee Lee Probert spotted a shirt tug by Jose Bosingwa on Hatem Ben Arfa and the winger made no mistake from the spot, hammering a fierce strike past Rob Green to level. The deciding moment of the game came ten minutes before half-time when Bosingwa and Green conspired to gift Gouffran an easy goal, the Frenchman volleying into an empty net from 20 yards.
Both sides made two changes from their previous games. The visitors brought in Mathieu Debuchy and Mike Williamson in place of Danny Simpson and Steven Taylor, the latter suffering with illness on the morning before the game. Bosingwa and Hoilett returned for the hosts with Ji-Sung Park and Tel Ben Haim dropping out, the Israeli having sealed a loan move to Toronto in the week.
Two penalties very much shaped the early proceedings. First Debuchy fouled Andros Townsend, allowing Remy to fire in his sixth league goal of the season then Bosingwa tugged at Ben Arfa, and the forward crashed home with aplomb. Newcastle could have gone ahead five minutes after equalising but an excellent header from Papiss Cisse was ruled out for offside, and after Elliot made a good save from Hoilett to keep the scores level, QPR gifted a second goal to their visitors.
Green rolled the ball to Bosingwa, only for the Portuguese to return the ball to his goalkeeper, who in turn was forced into a hurriedly clearance under pressure from Jonas Gutierrez. The loose ball fell to Gouffran and he calmly volleyed a low effort into the empty net.
A double change by Harry Redknapp at half-time led to Bosingwa and Stephane Mbia being replaced by Fabio Da Silva and Shaun Derry but neither man was able to have an immediate impact on the game as the second-half struggled to gather momentum.
Junior Hoilett’s pace had an impact as the game went on but two opportunities created for Bobby Zamora were intercepted by Debuchy and Fabricio Coloccini respectively. The 22-year-old Canadian then took matters into his own hands, dancing his way past a number of Newcastle challenges before dragging a shot just wide of Green’s right-hand post.
Newcastle came close to securing the win with 20 minutes to play but a goalline clearance from Derry denied Gutierrez his second goal of the season as he hooked his header clear after some more indecisive defending by QPR. The away side survived going down to 10 men in the closing minutes as goalkeeper Rob Elliot received his marching orders for two yellow cards, the second picked up after carrying the ball out of his penalty area.
The win takes Newcastle six points clear of Wigan Athletic and up to thirteenth place in the Barclays Premier League just enough to ensure safety for a relieved Alan Pardew.
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp: “We started well but once Newcastle got the penalty we seemed to lose everything and were poor. They were horrendous goals to concede.
“The team we had out there today would not finish in the top half of the Championship. Something has got to be done. That’s a fact. They’ve not got the quality. We’re short of good players who can really play at the top level. You might say they have the quality as they’ve played at other clubs, but it doesn’t work that way. We’ll try to do something but it will be difficult to shift players. It will be very hard.”
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew: “It is a big relief because this is a massive club. We got the win we needed. The injuries we have suffered this year have been horrendous. This type of year usually ends up in relegation.
“It was a nervous display from us, we really needed that first goal. We have made mistakes but we will make sure that we protect ourselves. The Premier League is so unforgiving.”