QPR 1 Wigan Athletic 1 match report: Adel Taarabt flinches at the death as Shaun Maloney knocks fight out of QPR

Late free-kick secures draw

Loftus Road

The hope drained out of QPR, spilling away through the cut inflicted by Shaun Maloney 36 seconds into the fourth and final minute of added time at Loftus Road. QPR were hanging on to the type of victory that can transform a struggling team’s season.

Down to 10 men for three-quarters of the game after Bobby Zamora was sent off they had snatched the lead with a brilliant 85th-minute goal by Loïc Rémy and seemed destined to move within five points of safety.

Then Stephane Mbia blundered into Maloney on the edge of the box. The Scot fell to the ground, but got up to curl a free-kick under Julio Cesar’s bar. As 340 visiting fans danced in the away end Loftus Road was hushed with horror.

On Twitter Adel Taarabt was blamed for turning his head aside to avoid being hit, à la Samir Nasri, who happens to be a friend of his. “You have to take one for the team” tweeted Phil Neville. Exiled QPR loanee Joey Barton, who was frequently at odds with Taarabt when the pair played together for QPR, was similarly critical tweeting from France. Harry Redknapp, though, refused to blame the Moroccan, who did more than anyone to lift QPR into the top flight but has disappointed since. “He didn’t duck, he jumped,” Redknapp said.

With fixtures against Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool to come relegation seems inevitable for QPR. Even the ebullient Redknapp, looking understandably drained, admitted it would be “very tough” to survive now. The late goal, he said, was as cruel a blow as he had suffered in his management career.

“The players are low, same as I am,” he said. “To get three points with 10 men would have given us a massive lift. We deserved to win. What have they done to deserve to win? They passed the ball in front of us. We had opportunities, we scored a great goal.

“I think he [referee Phil Dowd] was desperate to give a free-kick around the edge of the box but we had a great opportunity to run it away in the corner at the other end. Then we clear one free-kick and you think, ‘game over’, but we commit another foul.”

Redknapp had no complaints about the dismissal. QPR regularly incurred red cards under Neil Warnock and Mark Hughes but this was the first under Redknapp. As Jordi Gomez stooped to return a throw-in to Maloney, Zamora caught the side of his head with a raised boot. Initially Dowd waved play on but once he had stopped play, and Gomez had had lengthy treatment, Dowd took advice and then sent a nonplussed Zamora off. There was no malice in the challenge, but it was foolish and dangerous.

Martinez said Zamora’s exit disadvantaged his team as they were unable to cope with the pressure of expectation it created. “The players were pedestrian, they did not enjoy the game,” he said.

Nor, for a long time, would have any viewers. Until the late drama neither the Premier League’s most notable overachievers and underachievers achieved anything of note. Following Zamora’s dismissal QPR withdrew to the edge of the box and allowed Wigan possession. They had 67 per cent of it, but most of the time did not do much more than pass square.

There was a lack of width and urgency, as if they felt a point was enough, though the draw would leave them still in the bottom three.

Julio Cesar had to turn aside a deflected 42nd-minute shot from James McCarthy but was otherwise untroubled until Wigan finally got to the byline and Gomez delivered a cross the unmarked James McArthur headed straight at Cesar from point-blank range.

The miss looked costly when, five minutes later, a poorly executed Wigan free-kick led to a storming break by Mbia who ran 60 yards then released Rémy. The Frenchman, who had struck the post in a bright opening by QPR, whipped a stunning strike inside the far post.

Wigan, belatedly, were injected with a sense of urgency and pressed forward. As the seconds ticked away QPR held on. Then Maloney lined up the fateful free-kick.

“You don’t always get what you deserve in football,” lamented Redknapp, “that’s life.”

Bookings: QPR Remy, Samba. Wigan McCarthy, Alcaraz, Figueroa.

Sent off: Zamora (21).

Man of the match Townsend.

Match rating 5/10.

Possession: QPR 32%. Wigan 68%.

Attempts on target: QPR 1. Wigan 7.

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Attendance 16, 658.

Great escape route: Key fixtures

April

14: Newcastle v Sunderland

A first win for Paolo Di Canio at their bitter rivals could be a timely boost for Sunderland’s survival attempt.

20: QPR v Stoke

27: Stoke v Norwich

Stoke have two relegation battles in a row, and could be out of trouble while dropping others in the mire.

28: Reading v QPR

29: Aston Villa v Sunderland

Villa will see this as winnable despite performing better away from home.

May

4: Norwich v Aston Villa

4: Sunderland v Stoke

The battle between the two sides who have slowly been roped into relegation contention.

12: Sunderland v Southampton

19: Southampton v Stoke

19: Wigan v Aston Villa

Neck and neck for the past month, both clubs will hope to avoid a last day decider.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick