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January signings Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas both struck exquisite half-volleys as Queens Park Rangers' survival hopes received a boost against Sunderland. While QPR remain bottom of the Barclays Premier League and four points adrift of safety, back-to-back victories for the first time since their top-flight return could prove a major catalyst in their survival quest.
There had been fears last weekend's 2-1 win at Southampton could prove to be a flash in the pan, especially when Steven Fletcher put Sunderland ahead after 20 minutes. However, the hosts rallied and levelled the score on the half-hour mark as a deflected long-range Townsend effort fell kindly for Loic Remy to slot home.
It had looked like the spoils would be shared as both sides struggled in the second half, only for Townsend's moment of magic to change the game. Substitute Jenas rubbed salt into the wound with an equally impressive strike late on as Rangers earned a fourth league win of the campaign.
Redknapp spoke of the need for his side to put in a shift in his programme notes and got the desired response in the opening 20 minutes. After Park Ji-sung charged down a Sebastian Larsson strike, QPR pushed forward and were unfortunate to see Junior Hoilett strike wide in the fourth minute. The winger wriggled free down the left and snuck past makeshift right-back Craig Gardner, before firing across the face of goal. Hoilett continued that duel shortly afterwards, again darting past Gardner before striking wide.
Townsend on the opposite flank was also full of life in the early stages and saw a strike miss the target, while Bobby Zamora had penalty claims for a push by John O'Shea waved away.
It was the visitors, though, that broke the deadlock when Adam Johnson picked up a Stephane Sessegnon cross at the back post. The former Manchester City winger sent in a fierce cross-shot, which Fletcher turned home with ease from close range.
The Scotland forward’s 11th goal of the season was harsh on QPR, who could have fallen further behind seven minutes later when Christopher Samba slipped and Danny Graham was allowed a free header on goal. Fortunately for the hosts the January signing could not direct his header on goal, allowing QPR to draw parity soon after.
Townsend's long-range strike deflected off O'Shea into the path of Remy, who swept home with ease from close range to the delight of the home support. The Frenchman's third goal in English football seemed to kick QPR into gear as they dominated the remaining 15 minutes of the first period.
Zamora's flicked header was denied by Simon Mignolet, before the forward cut back the ball for strike partner Remy. The France international could only fire over, with former Marseille team-mate Stephane Mbia next to get a shot away. Mignolet was only able to stop a powerful drive at the second attempt.
The half-time break allowed Sunderland time to settle and they returned strongly. Barely a minute into second half, Christopher Samba had to be alert to deny Graham before Johnson put a fizzing drive narrowly wide. Clint Hill cleared a threatening Larsson cross as the Black Cats continued to press, switching to a 4-4-1-1 formation as they looked to regain the lead.
Danny Rose came on for Graham as Martin O'Neill shuffled the pack, with the left-back gifting QPR a first chance of the second half soon after coming on. The 22-year-old was dispossessed by Townsend, another man on loan from Tottenham, who drove forward only to see a long-range strike blocked by O'Shea.
The winger would not be denied for long, though, firing QPR ahead in stunning fashion. Sunderland cleared a Jose Bosingwa cross out of the box, only for Townsend to control the ball on his chest before firing home a superb 25-yard half volley as Loftus Road erupted.
Bosingwa curled a free-kick wide of the near post as the hosts edged a tense final 15 minutes, which came to life once again when Jenas, only on 10 minutes earlier, struck home in style. Fellow replacement Jamie Mackie saw a late shot saved by Mignolet as QPR ended on top.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp: “It was a good performance to come from 1-0 down. It was a good team performance, but we have to do that week in, week out. We didn't deserve to be one down as we started well with a good tempo, we passed the ball well - better than I have seen us play since I came here, in an attacking sense. But to one down against the run of play but to come back and equalise, it was an excellent first half.
"In the second half they started well and for the first 10 to 15 minutes they were the better team, but we came back into it and got the goals at the right time. It was a great finish from Andros and another top-class strike from Jermaine Jenas. From Rob Green all the way out it, everyone played their part. We have to have a real run of results like that if we are to get out of this, we need 36 or 37 points and that six points in two games has made a real difference to us."
Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill: “It was always going to be a difficult game for us. QPR were buoyed by their win over Southampton last week and we had to counteract that and deal with the swell of euphoria from the crowd, which I thought we did well. We put ourselves in front and it’s a wonder-goal from them to take the game to 2-1.
“We have to give QPR credit, but having said that it’s extremely disappointing to lose the game. From the second half onwards we looked as though we were in control of the game and that’s the frustrating aspect of it. When times are tough you’re never in control until you see it on the scoreboard.
“I thought QPR caused us problems and it was difficult for us. Craig Gardner stuck to the task admirably, as a midfielder playing at full-back - and the same at the other side of the field. It’s a tough old set of fixtures for us between now and the end of the season. We need to get some points on the board. The players in the dressing room are disappointed, but we’re looking to respond as we have done before. It’s a big game next week.”
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|20 Apr 2013||v Stoke (H)|
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|04 May 2013||v Arsenal (H)|