Championship round-up: Taarabt the key as Rangers extend lead

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The Independent Football

Not for the first time this season, Adel Taarabt scored the match-winning goal as Queens Park Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Championship to five points with a 2-1 defeat of second-placed Cardiff City at Loftus Road. The Welsh side went ahead in the 13th minute through Craig Bellamy, but the lead lasted only five minutes, Kaspars Gorkss heading in from Tommy Smith's cross. Taarabt was beginning to direct QPR operations and midway through the second half he beat Lee Naylor and calmly found the top-left corner.

"It was a great goal by Adel," the QPR manager, Neil Warnock, said, "but I have to say that Kaspars Gorkss was superb at the back, apart from the mistake for their goal, and the whole spine of my team were excellent."

Tyrone Mears' 82nd-minute free-kick and Jack Cork's 90th-minute header saw Burnley come from behind to beat fourth-placed Derby County 2-1 and move into the top six. Coventry City moved up to fifth after a 2-0 win at Scunthorpe thanks to Gary McSheffrey's fifth goal of the season and a Joe Murphy own goal – Marlon King's shot hit a post and rebounded in off the Iron goalkeeper. There were goalless draws between Reading and visitors Leeds United, Barnsley and Watford at Oakwell and bottom club Preston North End and Millwall at Deepdale. Other strugglers fared better. Crystal Palace's third win in four games came thanks to a Darren Ambrose run and pass that set up Pablo Counago's 35th-minute goal against Doncaster Rovers at Selhurst Park. Despite the 1-0 win, Palace remain in the bottom three.

Brett Pitman scored two penalties as improving Bristol City moved above Sheffield United after beating them 3-0. The Blades had Richard Cresswell sent off. And at a snow covered Riverside, Middlesbrough trailed twice to Hull City but headers by Leroy Lita and Scott McDonald earned a 2-2 draw.

Scotland

One look at the snow which ruined the fixture list north of the border sent Portuguese referees Cosma Machado and Joao Ferreira straight back to the Iberian peninsula, but officials from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel replaced striking Scottish referees at SPL matches. Alain Hamer of Luxembourg disallowed a Celtic goal as they were held 2-2 at home by Inverness.

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