Reich restores Palace's pretensions

Queen's Park Rangers 1 Crystal Palace 3

Even without the injured Andy Johnson and Jon Macken, Palace's forwards created a string of chances. Dougie Freedman, Clinton Morrison and Jobi McAnuff regularly opened up the home defence with their slick passing, while the match was a personal triumph for Marco Reich, who has joined on a short-term contract after his release by Derby County in the summer.

The German international winger scored two excellent goals in the opening 17 minutes, the first following a sweeping move down Rangers' right flank. After Freedman had cleverly released Morrison, Reich switched into the middle and met the Ireland international striker's cross with a sweet volley into the top corner from 12 yards. He quickly doubled Palace's advantage by curling a free-kick from 25 yards around the defensive wall and into the net.

Rangers were often outclassed, but their endeavour was admirable, particularly after losing Marc Nygaard, Dean Sturridge and Steve Lomas to illness and injury in the previous 24 hours. Within two minutes of Palace's second goal, Lloyd Dyer broke down the left and his penetrating cross was met by Gareth Ainsworth, who got in front of Emmerson Boyce to head home from eight yards.

The only surprise of an entertaining first half was that there were no more goals. Both defences looked shaky, but Rangers were unable to take advantage of a series of mistakes by Boyce and Danny Butterfield, while Morrison might have been celebrating a hat-trick if he had shown more composure in front of goal.

Rangers pressed hard early in the second half, but were regularly stretched on the break. Marc Bircham, having just been booked for a foul on Morrison, was lucky to stay on the pitch when he hauled back Tom Soares as the Palace midfielder sped clear on the left.

Palace created a series of chances in the closing stages and finally underlined their superiority in the 89th minute. A sweet passing move ended with Simon Royce parrying Gary Borrowdale's drive into the path of Soares, who gratefully accepted the chance to score his first League goal.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Royce; Bignot (Evatt, 85), Santos, Shittu, Dyer; Ainsworth, Bircham, Doherty (Langley, 78), Cook; Moore (Baidoo, 78), Furlong. Substitutes not used: Cole (gk), Shimmin.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Butterfield, Hall, Ward, Boyce; McAnuff (Andrews, 83), Watson (Hughes, 69), Soares, Reich; Morrison, Freedman (Borrowdale, 83). Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Hudson.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).

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