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Queens Park Rangers and Reading both remain without a win in the Barclays Premier League this season after sharing an engaging 1-1 draw at Loftus Road.
The visitors began the brighter and took the lead in the 16th minute, former QPR defender Kaspars Gorkss volleying in after the hosts were all at sea defending a corner.
Mark Hughes’s charges ramped up the pressure in the second half and equalised in the 66th minute through Djibril Cisse.
And QPR would have won an entertaining contest but for a brilliant save from Alex McCarthy to deny Adel Taarabt, one of a series of excellent stunning stops by the Reading goalkeeper.
The result did little to help either team, with Rangers remaining five points from safety – although they did climb off the bottom for 24 hours at least – and Reading only a point ahead.
Brian McDermott’s side were looking to bounce back from their remarkable Capital One Cup defeat by Arsenal in midweek, where they led 4-0 only to lose 7-5 after extra time.
There was no hangover as they began with much more urgency than the home side and Jobi McAnuff’s dangerous cross had be to cleared from in front of the near post by Anton Ferdinand, before Noel Hunt saw his shot deflected just wide.
Cisse was back in the QPR side and had dyed his hair blue for the occasion, and the Frenchman had Rangers’ first decent effort in the 12th minute with a shot just over the angle of post and bar.
Reading initially possessed the greater threat, though, and took a deserved lead in the 16th minute from a Nicky Shorey corner.
Sean Morrison headed against the bar and Gorkss volleyed in his first Barclays Premier League goal, with Julio Cesar getting a hand to the ball but only helping it into the net.
The Latvian declined to celebrate against the club he left last summer but QPR will be sick of the sight of him after Gorkss also netted in Reading’s Capital One Cup win earlier this season.
The home fans began to vent their frustration and the chances their side were creating were hardly clear-cut ones, with Cisse screwing a shot wide and Taarabt firing over and then twice shooting straight at McCarthy.
QPR did go much closer in the 39th minute after Morrison fouled Jamie Mackie on the edge of the box. Indeed they would have scored but for a stunning save from McCarthy, who pushed Esteban Granero’s free-kick onto the bar, with Jose Bosingwa firing the rebound just over.
Three minutes into the second half Granero was given another chance from virtually the same position when Jay Tabb felled Samba Diakite, but this time he curled his shot just wide.
Reading seemed content to sit on their lead and QPR began to pile on the pressure, with Junior Hoilett and Cisse both seeing shots blocked, but still the goal would not come.
The hosts’ momentum was disrupted by an injury to Hunt, who caught an elbow in the face from Granero, which referee Michael Oliver deemed to be accidental.
It did not take QPR long to pick up where they left off, though, and this time they got their reward as Cisse took one touch to control a cross from Bosingwa and beat Morrison before finding the bottom corner.
Taarabt then continued his personal duel with McCarthy but again the keeper was equal to the 25-yard shot, diving to his right to push it away.
Reading have found holding onto leads impossible so far this season but they set out to restore their advantage, with substitute Jimmy Kebe firing just wide after a forceful run and Jason Roberts seeing a shot blocked by Ferdinand.
It was QPR who looked more likely to find a winner, though, and Taarabt thought he had when he was played clean through by Cisse in the 83rd minute, but McCarthy stuck out a hand and a foot to divert the shot behind.
In a frenetic five minutes of stoppage time further chances fell to the home side but Zamora could only direct Cisse’s cross straight at McCarthy from close range, while Cisse’s long-range effort curled a fraction wide at the death.
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