Johnson hat-trick hits QPR for six as Taarabt 'storms out of ground'
Fulham 6 Queen's Park Rangers 0
"Welcome back", the Fulham fans sang to their west London rivals but this was the equivalent to sending the neighbours home with food poisoning after they have come round for the first time in a decade. While there is rather less animosity attached to this derby than the weekend dust-ups in Merseyside and north London, it was still a humiliating result which will live long in local schools and offices.
It may also have repercussions for Adel Taarabt, Rangers' temperamental playmaker who reportedly stormed out of the ground after being substituted at half-time. Neil Warnock did not deny nor confirm this but it would be no surprise given the Moroccan's previous behaviour.
Rangers' chief tormentor was Andy Johnson, who finally brought his Europa League form into the Premier League. Johnson, who has scored six times in Europe this season but not once in domestic competition, notched the first hat-trick of his Premier League career and created two other goals. It was, surprisingly, the first hat-trick scored by a Fulham player since they returned to the top flight a decade ago.
Martin Jol is, though, a hard man to please. Earlier this week, he said he thought it was about time Johnson scored in the Premier League. Now he has, Jol said "maybe we scored too many goals today, we could have done with some of those in other games".
Indeed, Fulham had only managed four goals, and no wins, in their opening six Premier League games. QPR, though, proved very accommodating opposition and victory was always on the cards after Johnson scored the fastest goal of the season after 79 seconds. Rangers stood off Moussa Dembélé and, after Paddy Kenny parried his shot, Johnson reacted first to tap in. By the 10th minute, it was clear Rangers' patched-up defence was in for a roasting. Fitz Hall had been forced to clear off his own line to avoid an own goal after Clint Dempsey's cross caused problems and Dempsey wasted a free shot 10 yards out.
Bradley Orr, who blocked that shot, was being overrun on the right with Dempsey and John Arne Riise doubling up on him, but Rangers' problems stemmed from the front. Joey Barton, who was supposed to provide cover, was being sucked into the middle to help Shaun Derry and Ali Faurlin, while Rangers' left-sided front three stood and watched. Taarabt, having been kicked early on by Steve Sidwell, was an irrelevance.
Not that the defence could blame anyone else for the second. As Johnson chased his own flick-on, Hall and Kenny confused one another and the latter clattered into Johnson. Murphy stroked home the penalty. The third did follow another left-wing sally, Johnson reacting first again after Riise's cross caused chaos.
Warnock went to a conventional 4-4-2 after the break and Rangers did play better, but they remained a shambles defensively. Around the time Taarabt was allegedly spotted on Fulham Palace Road waiting for a bus or taxi, Murphy took advantage of lax defending by Hall and Barton to feed Johnson from a quick free-kick for his hat-trick. The treble was as many as he scored last season from 29 games (many, admittedly, which he started on the bench).
For the fifth goal, Dempsey drove in after Johnson beat Orr and Bobby Zamora laid his cross off. Zamora then concluded a difficult week for him – Jol did not convincingly rebuff reports of a training-ground dispute between the pair – by drilling in the sixth goal. The score equalled the record margin between these clubs, set by Fulham in 1948, and was Fulham's biggest win in the Premier League since relegating Norwich six years ago.
Warnock bemoaned the absence of Armand Traoré through suspension, Danny Gabbidon and Matt Connolly with injury, and the fact Hall suffered a strain in the warm-up, but none of them would get into many Premier League teams. Come the January transfer window, a defender will be a priority. Jamie Mackie's return, after nine months out with injury, was a minor consolation.
Substitutes: Fulham Ruiz 6 (Johnson, 75), Etuhu (Murphy, 83), Sa (Dembele, 87). QPR
Smith 5 (Derry, h-t), Campbell 5 (Taarabt, h-t), Mackie 5 (Bothroyd, 72). Booked: Fulham Hangeland, Sidwell. QPR Hall, Faurlin, Wright-Phillips. Man of the match Johnson.
Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Fulham 57% QPR 43%.
Attempts on target: Fulham 13 QPR 10.
Referee A Marriner (W Midlands).
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