Cantona's cruel way to the top

QPR 1 Irwin 63 og Manchester United 1 Cantona 90 Attendance: 18,817

IN THEORY, with Manchester United chasing the Championship, this should scarcely have been a contest. In the glorious uncertainty of reality, with survival as potent motivation, Queen's Park Rangers stood the league table on its head before a goal by Eric Cantona in the third minute of injury time rescued a point for them and squeezed them to the top of the Premiership on goal difference.

Poor Rangers, whose chances of staying up receded further. Grittily they had clung on to a lead after being outplayed in the first half and it seemed Newcastle and Liverpool would also be celebrating their victory. Then Cantona popped up to head home Ryan Giggs's cross and it was United who were celebrating.

The portents for Queen's Park Rangers were not good; without a home win for three months - without one over United since 1988 - and with only one victory in their last 11 matches. United, on the other hand, arrived on a run of 10 consecutive wins.

The contrast was soon apparent, though QPR showed themselves ready for the battle with an aggressive opening in which Simon Barker and Ian Holloway snapped at the heels of Roy Keane and Brian McClair.

A better first touch from Trevor Sinclair might have seen him in for a shot at Peter Schmeichel, who was troubled soon after by Danny Dichio's header from Nigel Quashie's cross. Barker then headed Holloway's corner over the bar.

After this first flush, however, United's self-assurance began to assert itself. Some neat passing movements, often instigated by Cantona and carried on by Giggs's effervescent running, frequently pulled Rangers out of shape and their defence was left exposed by a midfield who were struggling to cope.

Giggs's run past David Bardsley and a shot that Jurgen Sommer beat out was the first glimpse of United's threat and chances followed at regular intervals. Cantona split the home defence with a cross-field pass that David Beckham turned goalwards, Sommer pushing it aside.

It was remarkable how Rangers survived to the interval, Sommer producing some of his best form of the season. Giggs sent in McClair, only for the American goalkeeper to save at his feet, and Sommer then halted another Giggs run.

Rangers brought on Andy Impey to replace Quashie at the start of the second half and his pace on the right immediately disconcerted and pressurised United, with Denis Irwin pleading from left-back for help.

Impey himself went close with a powerful drive from 20 yards, Schmeichel happy to see the ball sail just over his bar. Then the keeper gathered with relief when Kevin Gallen turned the ball into his arms after Dichio had headed down Holloway's corner.

That United were uncomfortable under pressure was evident when David May, replacing the injured Gary Pallister, up-ended Sinclair and was booked, along with Dichio, for protesting.

United brought on Paul Scholes in an attempt to win the match. Instead he was soon being asked to save it as Rangers took the lead their second-half showing deserved.

United, dragged to the left to counter Impey and Sinclair, left themselves open on the right and Holloway found Dichio in space. From the edge of the area he curled a shot past Schmeichel, Irwin inadvertently heading the ball into the net in trying to clear. Now the roles were reversed with United feeling the desperation, until Cantona breathed their late sigh of relief.

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
fashion

British supermodel and hitmaker join forces to launch a 'huge song'

News
news

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce they are set to welcome second child in spring

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually a challenging and nuanced title

Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

NQT Job Opportunties in Winsford

£85 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teac...

Year 3 Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 1 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past