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Chelsea’s four-match winning run in the Barclays Premier League ground to a spectacular halt as struggling west London rivals QPR claimed a 1-0 win, their first victory at Stamford Bridge for two decades.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, an early substitute for the injured Junior Hoilett, struck a brilliant 78th-minute winner against the club he left in 2008 to further erode the Blues’ fading title hopes.
Wright-Phillips’ second goal of the season topped a fine performance from QPR that was a vast improvement on Sunday’s 3-0 defeat by Liverpool.
Rangers defended resolutely throughout and created more chances to score in an entertaining second half.
It was a crucial victory that ended their three-match losing run, giving Harry Redknapp his second win since becoming manager last month, and while they remain bottom of the table on goal difference the result invigorated their relegation battle.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez dropped Ramires, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard to the bench, but the Blues still created more than enough chances to be out of sight before Wright-Phillips pounced.
The lack of a goal will have added urgency to Chelsea’s pursuit of Demba Ba after today tabling the £7million bid that has triggered the release clause in the Newcastle United striker’s contract.
QPR suffered a setback when Junior Hoilett limped off in the 16th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring problem, resulting in Wright-Phillips’s arrival from the bench.
David Luiz directed an attempt into the ground and onto the top netting and Chelsea threatened again shortly after when Branislav Ivanovic outmuscled Adel Taarabt and drove into the box, finding Marko Marin who gave the ball away.
A corner bounced harmlessly off the shin of Torres and play quickly swept to the opposite end as Esteban Granero picked out Wright-Phillips from long range, with the ensuing first-time shot slipping narrowly wide.
QPR rarely escaped their half but were defending resolutely with skipper Clint Hill nodding clear a curling shot from Oscar, although Victor Moses passed up a glorious chance three minutes after the interval when he steered Marin’s fast pass wide when only four yards out.
QPR’s goal was coming under growing pressure with Ivanovic grazing the crossbar, Luiz seeing a rocket blocked and only a brave save by Julio Cesar denying Torres from point-blank range.
Taarabt and Wright-Phillips combined superbly to tee up Granero but the Spaniard’s shot was plucked from the air by goalkeeper Ross Turnbull, who started ahead of groin injury victim Petr Cech.
QPR were now in the ascendancy with Jamie Mackie denied a one on one with Turnbull by a last-ditch tackle from Gary Cahill before Shaun Derry’s free header was caught by the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Frank Lampard then stabbed the ball in but the flag had been raised for offside in what was a close but correct call.
Once again Chelsea faded and this time QPR took advantage, working the ball from a corner via Taarabt to Wright-Phillips, who drove the ball into the bottom left corner of the net from the edge of the area.
Ivanovic nodded over the crossbar in the dying moments and QPR held on for a precious three points.
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez: “We were doing well but you could see some players were a little bit tired. It was not the high tempo we were expecting and in the end we made a mistake.
“You can’t carry on with the same players every game. If you play the team at the bottom at home you have to trust the players and I thought we would be fine.
“There are two or three players who have been playing many games in the last few weeks or months. We’re trying to manage every game.”
QPR manager Harry Redknapp: "We worked our socks off tonight and you get your reward if you work like that - and that's what we did. It was a fantastic performance. We restricted Chelsea to very few chances and we deserved it.
"We had good opportunities as well and if the final pass had been better... we hit some final sloppy passes but then we got that fine goal. I'm just really pleased with our first away win for over a year.
"They've set the standard tonight and if we're going to get out of this mess then they have to work as hard as that - not just once but every week."
"If I can improve the squad in the window it will give us a chance. This win is very important for us when it comes to signing players. They might think that now we do have a chance and it would be nice to try and help us get out of this mess and achieve something. Let's be up for the challenge.
"I lost Joe [Cole] who would have been my first signing. He probably looked here and thought 'Harry I love you but you're not going to stay up'. I like Joe and he would have been good for me. He's West Ham and they love him there. I thought he was coming for sure but West Ham came in today.
"That was our first away win in the league since October 2011. Let's hope we can build on it. There's still a long way to go but that was encouraging. We had a good meeting after the Liverpool match and I convinced the players we can stay up. Everybody else thought I was mad but I do genuinely believe it. We're not doomed, we can turn it around.
"If we keep working hard for the rest of the season we'll win games away and at home. We have to make the most of that. The atmosphere in the changing room afterwards was fantastic, it's the first time I've really experienced that here.
"I said to [assistant coach] Joe Jordan after the game, 'I cant remember having many better games than this one'. Chelsea were absolutely flying and we did it on the back of that Liverpool defeat."
|12 Jan 2013||v Stoke (A)|
|16 Jan 2013||v Southampton (H)|
|20 Jan 2013||v Arsenal (H)|
|30 Jan 2013||v Reading (A)|
|02 Feb 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|09 Feb 2013||v Wigan (H)|