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Queens Park Rangers sunk to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League table after this home defeat to West Bromwich Albion. Harry Redknapp showed great confidence in Rob Green by choosing him ahead of fit-again Julio Cesar, but he was beaten from 30 yards by a Chris Brunt shot, then dropped the ball in to his own net to give the Baggies a 2-0 lead just after the restart.
Rangers pulled one back through Djibril Cisse, but despite late pressure could not get a second.
There was an element of luck about both West Brom's goals, but other than the occasional flash of brilliance from Adel Taarabt, Redknapp's team offered little going forward and were shaky at the back. Kick-off was delayed by 11 minutes after West Brom's team bus was held up by the Boxing Day sales traffic around Loftus Road.
QPR started promisingly amid miserable weather in west London. Stephane Mbia fired a drive inches wide as Ben Foster scrambled across his line. Adel Taarabt nutmegged Brunt with a brilliant piece of skill, but the Northern Irishman tripped the Moroccan up to prevent him from unleashing a shot at goal. Youssouf Mulumbu and James Morrison both had wayward long-range efforts, but QPR were otherwise unthreatened as Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand kept the powerful Romelu Lukaku at bay.
Wright-Phillips produced a dazzling piece of skill to beat Mulumbu and Billy Jones but Jamie Mackie could only head the winger's cross wide. QPR looked the more likely of the two sides to score, but it was the Baggies fans who were celebrating just before the half-hour when Brunt put the visitors ahead. The midfielder picked the ball up from Fortune and strode at goal before unleashing a 30-yard drive that sailed in to the bottom right-hand corner of Green's goal.
Morrison almost made it 2-0 seconds later with a clever volley, but the home side regained their composure and went close through Mbia and Taarabt. Rangers still looked vulnerable at the back. A mix-up between Traore and Hill allowed Brunt some time on the edge of the box but he could only shoot wide. Albion, sensing the opportunity to score a second just before the break, continued to push forward and almost found the net in injury time through Morrison.
After the break the story remained the same. Lukaku found space in the box, but could only prod weakly at Green and Anton Ferdinand almost turned Jones's cross in to his own net. Mbia wriggled free from his marker to meet Taarabt's corner, but his header flew straight back at the Moroccan, rather than at goal.
West Brom then doubled their lead. Traore attempted to clear Brunt's corner but his header looped back towards his own goal. Green attempted to collect the ball under pressure from Marc-Antoine Fortune, but could only drop it in to his own net. Green gathered his composure to save well twice from the impressive Lukaku and Samba Diakite.
Albion took their foot off the accelerator and paid the price in the 69th minute when Cisse latched on to Mbia's slide-rule pass and lifted the ball over the advancing Foster. QPR threw everything at the away goal looking for an equaliser, but they struggled to test Foster.
At the other end Fortune thought he had killed the game off when he beat Green with six minutes to go, but his strike was called offside. Foster saved brilliantly on the line from QPR captain Clint Hill in the last minute. The home side went on the attack again, but Foster could not be beaten and Rangers slumped to the second defeat of Redknapp's reign.
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp: "I couldn’t fault my players. The goalkeeper has pulled off unbelievable saves and there’s been blocks on the line.
We could have easily dropped our heads but we kept going. We didn’t deserve to lose that game. We pummelled them at the end. We just couldn’t get the equaliser. They gave everything again today, I couldn’t have asked for more effort. We’ve just got to keep going, there’s nothing else you can do.”
West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke: "The first half was quite even. We got our noses in front, but we looked like the team playing with confidence and QPR are the team that is struggling. We passed the ball well and had some half-chances.
We played good stuff and at the start of the second half I thought we were tremendous, we opened the game up and QPR had to come at us. We made a number of chances to make the game 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 and it could have been over before QPR got the goal which made it a little bit more nervous for us towards the end."
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