Match Report: Rafael Benitez beats hasty retreat after QPR beat Chelsea in shock of the season

Chelsea 0 Queen's Park Rangers 1

Stamford Bridge

At the final whistle tonight there was an impassioned chorus of Rafa Benitez’s name, sung by supporters with pride and delight. Unfortunately for the Chelsea manager it came from the Queens Park Rangers fans in the away end at Stamford Bridge.

As for Benitez himself he had made a quick exit, having just presided over the worst league result at Stamford Bridge in recent years and arguably the biggest shock of the Premier League season so far. Chelsea 0, Queen's Park Rangers 1. It looks like a misprint, but it actually happened: bottom-of-the-table QPR beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

QPR have not won at Stamford Bridge since April 1983, when both sides were in the old Second Division, in a season in which Chelsea also lost at home to Shrewsbury Town. The killer blow was delivered by Shaun Wright-Phillips who joined Chelsea more than seven years ago as one of the great emerging talents of English football and has since then lost his way. Tonight, he came in from the cold in spectacular fashion.

In his time at Chelsea, Wright-Phillips scored just one Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge in his three years at the club, and no-one will remember that one as long as they remember the goal he scored tonight. A first-half substitute for Junior Hoilett, Wright-Phillips was one of those QPR players who sleepwalked through a defeat to Liverpool on Sunday like a team that had already accepted the cold embrace of relegation.

Tonight, QPR won only their second game in 21 matches and in doing so declared themselves very much alive and kicking. "We had a good meeting after the Liverpool game," Redknapp said. "I think I convinced them we can stay up. I said that on Sunday and everybody probably thought I was mad. I didn't go home thinking we were doomed and 'What have I done here?'"

As for Chelsea, Benitez was moved to declare that if his team, 14 points behind leaders Manchester United in fourth, with a game in hand, were to challenge for the title this season they would need to be "almost perfect". That sounds like a tall order.

From Chelsea's point of view, Demba Ba cannot come join soon enough, and there were suggestions that he was in the stadium ahead of what is expected to the final stages in the agent-free-for-all carve-up that has been his move from Newcastle.

Fernando Torres is tired, according to Benitez, which is understandable given that he has started all 20 of Chelsea's league games this season. Even so, that did not completely account for another lifeless display from Chelsea's No 9. He was not the only one. The likes of David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Oscar might have done better too.

Benitez left Juan Mata, Ashley Cole, Ramires and Eden Hazard on the bench, eventually having to bring on all but Cole, who was goaded by the QPR fans as "John Terry's b****" as he warmed up on the touchline yet managed to keep his cool – which is progress. Marko Marin was given his first league start by Benitez and might have been sent off in the first four minutes for a terrible foul on Stéphane Mbia.

There will be criticism for Benitez for playing the side that he did, but this was a Chelsea XI that should have beaten a QPR team with their confidence on the floor. This time Redknapp said that he had hammered home to his players the job required of them. Certainly a 4-3-3 formation that reverted to 4-5-1 when they were defending looked a lot more effective than the side which succumbed so easily on Sunday.

There were excellent performances from Shaun Derry, Esteban Granero, Ryan Nelsen and Nedum Onuoha but the pick of the lot was Julio Cesar. His save from Torres on 53 minutes when the striker had a hit at goal from close range was a match-defining moment.

There was no doubt that QPR rode their luck at times, but Chelsea had their moment of good fortune early on with Marin. At 5ft 7in, he is not the man you would anticipate coming over all Ron Harris. Losing control of the ball on four minutes, he launched studs-up at Mbia and caught the midfielder squarely on the shin and was only given a yellow card.

It should have been a red card. Chelsea's best chance of the first half came within two minutes of the break when a shot from Oscar that was deflected off Lampard was well-stopped by Cesar who was travelling in the wrong direction at the time.

Having left Djbril Cissé on the bench in favour of Adel Taraabt at centre-forward, Redknapp lacked a cutting edge to test Ross Turnbull in goal. The screw was turned on QPR after the break. Marin sent the ball across goal where a touch from Victor Moses would have been enough for a goal. Gary Cahill headed just over the bar. Cesar made that save from Torres.

Only on one occasion before the goal did they carve out a proper chance when Taraabt managed to get the ball through to Jamie Mackie who could not get away from Cahill to get the shot in.

It was from a corner that QPR finally broke through, one that was won by their own hard work. When the ball came out, Taraabt teed it up nicely for Wright-Phillips who struck a well-judged right foot shot past Turnbull and inside the goalkeeper's right post. At the end, Redknapp punched the air in front of his supporters, his pronouncement on Sunday that his side could stay up this season looking a shade more credible.

Man of the match Cesar.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee L Mason (Lancashire).

Attendance 41,634.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada