Match Report: Adel Taarabt miss leaves QPR adrift at the bottom after draw against Norwich City
Queens Park Rangers 0 Norwich City 0: Redknapp spent £22m in the window but his struggling side are now six points from safety after Moroccan forward's penalty is saved by Norwich goalkeeper Bunn
There was no instant return from Tony Fernandes's £22 million gamble yesterday as QPR spurned the chance to gain their second home win of the season. Harry Redknapp started with two new recruits, and added another pair off the bench, but it was the longest-serving player in his Premier League squad who came closest to scoring.
However, Adel Taarabt saw his 57th-minute penalty superbly saved by the player who conceded it, Norwich's goalkeeper Mark Bunn. "We needed a break. Score the penalty and we go on to win the game," said Redknapp afterwards.
The miss capped a bad 24 hours for the QPR manager. His pleasure at some successful transfer trading on Thursday's deadline day was dissipated on Friday when Loïc Rémy, the £8m striker, injured his groin. "It was the last kick of training, he struck a ball and felt it go," said Redknapp. Next week's trip to Swansea may be too soon for Rémy, and after that QPR do not play until they meet Manchester United at home on 23 February.
Rémy's absence was a problem for Redknapp as his back-up centre-forward, Bobby Zamora, has a chronic hip injury. "Bobby made a big difference to us when he came on but he can't play 90 minutes," said Redknapp. "His hip seizes up on him. Getting 35 minutes out of him was a miracle. He has had one operation on it and may need another at the end of season."
The draw left QPR rooted to the bottom of the table three points adrift of safety, a margin extended to six by results later in the day. "We couldn't have tried any harder," said Redknapp. "But it is wins we need. We haven't lost a game since the turn of the year and had lots of tough games, but today was a match I thought that we had got to go for and maybe get a win."
With Rémy injured and Zamora on the bench, Jamie Mackie led the line. He played with his customary gusto and energy but is happier facing the goal than with his back to it, and QPR struggled to retain possession in forward areas.
Not that they were alone. In a dull opening half Norwich also freely squandered possession. Despite being seven matches without a win they were unchanged, with their deadline-day arrival from Leeds, Luciano Becchio, on the bench.
Of his new signings Redknapp threw in £12.5m Christopher Samba and loanee Andros Townsend. Samba did well despite a lack of match sharpness. "I asked Samba how fit he was," said Redknapp. "He said, 'I'm 40 per cent fit, I haven't played since November.' But the man is a colossus."
Not that he had much to do in the first period. Wes Hoolihan went close from Robert Snodgrass's cross but thereafter Taarabt was the man most likely to break the deadlock. He tried several shots and created good chances for Mackie and Shaun Wright- Phillips without Bunn being troubled. For Norwich, Grant Holt sent a free header into Julio Cesar's arms.
The tempo picked up after the break. Taarabt's free-kick somehow eluded everyone then, at the other end, Holt and Snodgrass combined for Hoolihan to bring a superb save from Cesar. The Brazilian went on to make two more outstanding saves from shots by Bradley Johnson and Snodgrass but it was Bunn who made the best one.
He needed to, having tripped up Mackie in the box after being sold short by Javier Garrido's back-pass. Taarabt's kick was well stuck but Bunn dived low to his left to parry. "We've no complaints about the penalty but fortunately the keeper guessed the right way," said Norwich's manager, Chris Hughton. "It's a good point. Every point away from home in this division is a good point, especially against a team in good form."
The miss prompted the visiting fans to break into a chant of: "That Odemwingie, he would have scored that." Whether Peter Odemwingie would have been allowed to take the spot-kick had he managed to complete his transfer from West Bromwich Albion on Thursday night is a moot point, but he has taken and scored them for his current club.
It was QPR's third penalty failure of a season in which they have scored just 18 Premier League goals. They should have scored a 19th but Bunn made two further saves from Taarabt and one from the lively Townsend, while in between Zamora, with his shirt being tugged by Russell Martin, headed wide of the goal from Townsend's cross.
Redknapp brought on Jermaine Jenas, then Tal Ben Haim, who became the 50th QPR player to feature in the 63 League matches they have played since they were promoted 18 months ago. It is an astonishing statistic which is one reason they are where they are in the table.
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