Mark Hughes thanks lucky stars after remarkable victory

Queen's Park Rangers 1 Stoke City 0

Loftus Road

The first roar was the loudest. When Djibril Cissé turned Anton Ferdinand's last-minute flick in at the far post, winning the game, the crowd erupted. The second wave of noise, a minute later, marking James Morrison's equaliser at the Reebok Stadium, was nearly as powerful. Then the third, on the final whistle, propelled thousands of joyous Rangers fans on to the pitch.

Invasions like this in the Premier League are rare. But this was one of the most remarkable 10-minute turnarounds of the season. Rangers, somehow, finished the day two points clear of Bolton Wanderers. Mark Hughes' side's future is in their own hands now. More importantly, though, they might not need to win, or even draw, at Manchester City next Sunday to survive.

This is a rather good position for QPR to be in, but especially so given how the afternoon developed. For 89 minutes they were very poor, devoid of any plan of how to score a goal. And as they aimlessly threw themselves up against Stoke City's brick wall, Bolton scored one and then another at home against West Bromwich Albion.

Going into the final minutes here, it looked as if Rangers would end the day two points behind Bolton. That would have demanded that they win at the Etihad Stadium as a minimum requirement. Given that City are unbeaten at home in the league this year, and are one win away from the title, while Rangers have the league's worst away record, the chance would have been a rather remote one.

"Things seemed to have happened and stars have aligned, and things have fallen our side of the line and we're thankful for that," a relieved Hughes admitted afterwards. "The fact that with one game left we still have our fate in our hands is something we're grateful for."

The nervousness which coloured the whole afternoon at Loftus Road could have been much worse. After just four minutes Stoke City made and missed their only good chance of the game. Peter Crouch, their willing lonely target, flicked the ball on to Cameron Jerome, who stabbed the ball over from six yards out.

Even without going behind early, the fear was afflicting enough. The Rangers fans reacted to every one of Andre Marriner's decisions, no matter how trivial, with desperate anxiety. The players never looked comfortable on the ball, or confident in one another.

"It wasn't a great game," Hughes said, with some understatement. "We have played much better, but the momentum of recent weeks was difficult to replicate. We needed momentum to get the ball down and play and create that ourselves. Towards the end we got a little bit anxious, knocking longer balls trying to make something happen."

There will not be many worse half-hours of football than the first one here. For too much of this season Rangers have been an assortment of individuals, with none of the common bonds of trust and understanding which make a team. Even in the 37th league game of the season, this was evident. Rangers' only real route to goal was through Adel Taarabt, who won a free-kick for himself, and had it palmed round the post by Thomas Sorensen.

Before the interval Joey Barton headed straight at Sorensen, but that was that in a poor first half. The fans were desperate to see Djibril Cissé at half-time, but had to wait five more minutes before he replaced Akos Buzsaky.

Hughes moved to a 4-2-4 but for all the attacking intent there was none of the craft needed to unpick a massed defence. Taye Taiwo hammered a free-kick into the wall, Taarabt had some shots deflected behind and Cissé, just starting to threaten, had a header saved by Sorensen.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jay Bothroyd were the next ones thrown on. West Bromwich had pulled a goal back. Wright-Phillips had a shot go behind for a corner. Taarabt took it, Ferdinand flicked it and Cissé finished, prompting that first wave of noise.

"They still showed belief, they still showed qualities," Hughes said. "They kept believing, that belief has to be there, and each and every one of them demonstrated that."

Match facts



Scorer. QPR: Cissé 89.

Substitutes: Queen's Park Rangers Cissé 7 (Buzsaky, 50), Wright-Phillips (Derry, 81), Bothroyd (Zamora, 81). Stoke City Shotton 6 (Wilson, h-t), Whitehead (Fuller, 78), Jones (Jerome, 78).

Booked None.

Man of the match Cissé. Match rating 6/10.

Possession: QPR 53% Stoke 47%.

Attempts on target: QPR 12 Stoke 1.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands). Attendance 17,319.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine