Helguson forced to cool off after missing hat-trick

Middlesbrough 0 Queen’s Park Rangers 3
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The Independent Football

His fellow passengers on the early evening service out of Darlington bound for King's Cross might not have been able to discern the fact from his slightly miffed misdemeanour, but the rugged-looking chap in the blue club tracksuit had plenty to celebrate. Two goals, fulsome praise from his manager and his QPR side having emphatically restored their five-point advantage at the Championship summit.

The only minor downside for Heidar Helguson? Like any forward worth his salt, the 33-year-old wanted more, but was denied when Adel Taarabt trampled over any morsel of sentiment by refusing to allow his team-mate a chance of a hat-trick by swiftly grabbing the ball after he, Taarabt, had been brought down in the area to ram home from the penalty spot.

It meant Neil Warnock's squad had their work cut out to placate the Icelander on their return journey south, although Helguson's disappointment at his inability to add to his deflected shot and unmarked header either side of the interval was no doubt tempered by now having scored four goals in his last three games.

"I asked Adel to let Heidar have a chance of his hat-trick with the penalty," Shaun Derry, who again excelled in his holding midfield role, said. "But then we all appreciate Adel's a goalscorer. So instead we just needed to put a smile on Heidar's face on the way home. Otherwise he'd sit there on the train with the hump all the way home, even after two goals."

Warnock showed little sentiment for Helguson. "If I'm honest, I didn't want him to take it. We've got to be professional and it was Taarabt's to take. If Heidar had taken it and missed it I'd have battered him."

It is now 12 for the season for the well-travelled forward, who is likely to be rewarded for his impressive form with a new contract as the club head back into the Premier League after a generation's wait.

A 19th clean sheet for Paddy Kenny came under its biggest threat inside 60 seconds when the his mis-cued clearance offered Scott McDonald a clear run on goal. The goalkeeper atoned with a fine block and from that point the visitors exerted an increasing stranglehold on the contest.

"If you don't raise your game enough against the best sides in this division they will pick you off," Nicky Bailey, the Middlesbrough captain, conceded. The hosts have been dragged back into the scrap for survival after gaining a single win in four games, and with Nottingham Forest due at the Riverside Stadium tomorrow, matters could get worse before they get better.

A five-point cushion on the bottom three provides little comfort after the comprehensive manner of this defeat for the pre-season title favourites and Bailey added: "We need to string a few decent results together but that is not something we've been doing. Our main priority is to stay in this division, and the sooner we achieve that, the better."

Middlesbrough (4-4-2) Steele; McMahon, Hines, Davies (Haas, 82), Bennett; Emnes (Zemmama, 60), Bailey, Arca (Robson, 60), Taylor; Lita, McDonald. Substitutes not used Ripley, Boyd, Grounds, Smallwood.

Queen's Park Ragners (4-2-3-1) Kenny; Orr (Connolly, 78), Hall, Shittu, Hill; Derry, Faurlin; Routledge, Buzsaky (Ephraim, 70), Taarabt; Helguson (Hulse, 84). Substitutes not used Gorkss, Vaagan Moen, Cerny, Miller. Booked Faurlin, Hall.

Man of the match Helguson

Referee K Stroud (Hampshire)

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