QPR vs Aston Villa match report: Charlie Austin double takes QPR off the bottom as Villa goal drought continues

QPR 2 Aston Villa 0

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It was hard to see how this evening could have gone much better for Harry Redknapp. This was not just a crucial win, his Queens Park Rangers side’s second of the season and their second clean sheet.

This was also a personal triumph for Redknapp, a vindication of his selection and tactics and a more persuasive case than has been made recently that he deserves to cling on to his job.

In the first half Rangers played a basic 4-4-2 formation, and scored when Bobby Zamora and Charlie Austin combined for the latter to net. In the second half Redknapp changed the game by switching to 4-5-1, and Eduardo Vargas crossed for Austin’s second.

Redknapp may well be grateful, though, for the compliant opposition. This was Aston Villa’s fifth straight defeat and they played like a team lacking in confidence. Rangers have moved  off the bottom of the Premier League to 19th, three points behind 15th-placed Villa.

This does not turn Rangers into a model club overnight. But this was, at least, a new standard of performance, of having a plan, executing it, and changing when required.

Redknapp’s responsibility was to peer back through all the nonsense of his public row with striker Adel Taarabt – for which both men were criticised by QPR’s chairman, Tony Fernandes – to the 3-2 defeat to Liverpool which preceded it. That Liverpool game was one of the few times under Redknapp when Rangers had played like a team, and so Redknapp hoped to take the best of that aggressive, brave performance into this game.

There were just two changes from that game, one in goal with Rob Green coming in for Alex McCarthy, the other with Vargas, who scored twice against Liverpool, starting at the expense of Nedum Onuoha. Rangers could not produce the same intensity they showed against Liverpool. They did not need to, as they scored the only goal of a poor first half with striking simplicity.


Richard Dunne launched the ball forward from the back and Zamora held off Villa defender Ron Vlaar and laid the ball off to Charlie Austin.

And Austin drove it into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box. The ground erupted in celebration of Rangers’ seventh goal in their ninth Premier League game of the season.

Redknapp’s side did not create anything else of real note in the first half.

Villa did try to play good football but they lacked the quality or confidence to do it. Ashley Westwood and Carlos Sanchez hit 25-yard shots straight at Green, and Dunne threw himself in front of two shots by Christian Benteke, but there was not much more on offer from Paul Lambert’s side.

The second half started at a better tempo. Villa tried to be more assertive and had their first real chance to score an equaliser. Benteke climbed above Dunne to meet Westwood’s free-kick, which he nodded down to Ciaran Clark. The defender controlled the ball with his chest but could not go on to score.

QPR celebrate the opening goal against Aston Villa


Rangers had been warned, though, and so Redknapp did what he does not always do and took the initiative from the bench, changing the approach and, in time, doubling his team’s lead. Junior Hoillet came on for Rangers striker Zamora and played on the left wing, leaving Austin up front on his own. The tactical tweak gave Rangers an extra body in midfield in the shape of Leroy Fer. It nearly worked instantly, as Hoillet darted forward, cut inside and curled a shot onto the outside of the far post.

Rangers only had to wait three minutes more for their second goal, thanks to a brisk break on the opposite side.

Villa’s Sanchez gifted the ball straight to Karl Henry in midfield, and his pass forward found Vargas tearing upfield. Vargas was too quick for left-back Aly Cissokho and whipped in a perfect cross to the near post. Austin ran across Vlaar, met the ball and fired his shot into the bottom-right corner, another well-taken goal and his fourth of the season.

Carlos Sanchez was to blame for the second goal


Rangers then put together a delightful passing move that ended with Vargas carelessly shooting straight at Brad Guzan. Austin had a shot blocked by Vlaar.

Lambert, who had already been outmanoeuvred by Redknapp, threw on Joe Cole and Darren Bent but without much effect. Tom Cleverley’s long-range shot forced Green into a save, but Clark could do no better from the follow up.

 Benteke, who looked like a player still coming back from a long-term Achilles injury, tried an ambitious long-range volley which sailed over the bar. Villa have now gone five consecutive matches without scoring and they did not look like a team in a rush to break that run.