QPR vs Manchester United match report: Marouane Fellaini finds target as Radamel Falcao fires blanks

QPR 0 Manchester United 2: United subs secure points while Redknapp denies his job is under threat after loss

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The Independent Online

It is customary for the manager of FA Cup underdogs to joke that he won’t show his players a video of the opposition as it would “frighten them to death”. Cambridge United’s manager, Richard Money, is more likely to keep the recording of this match under wraps for fear his players would become complacent.

Money’s team, 4-0 winners yesterday, play Manchester United in the fourth round on Friday, and if the 11-times FA Cup winners repeat their first hour at Loftus Road at the Abbey Stadium the U’s will fancy their chances. For that period United were abject. Assembled at huge expense, they looked and played like a collection of strangers thrown together on the park on a Sunday morning.

It is an indication of how poor QPR are that for all their endeavour they lost to these impostors in red. If this proves to be Harry Redknapp’s last match in management it will be a sad way to bow out, but few managers leave the game on their own terms.

 

Eventually goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and, in time added on, James Wilson secured a victory that kept United in the top four – a sign of just how average this season’s Premier League is, bar the top two. 

Fellaini had arrived at half-time to replace Juan Mata who, one sublime pass to Radamel Falcao aside, was awful. Wilson came on just before the hour, prompting a switch to a back four. United’s travelling support, which had been chanting “Four-four-two”, must have felt vindicated when Fellaini opened the scoring a minute later, but the goal owed little to the change.

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Wayne Rooney jostles with Joey Barton and Mauricio Isla

When Alex Ferguson’s United were in their pomp there was never any mystery about how they would line up. Under Louis van Gaal, every week is a new puzzle as observers – and, it seems at times, participants – try and work out which piece goes where. Yesterday the manager fielded a back three with Michael Carrick sitting in front. Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind were wide, but only Valencia attempted any wing-play. Mata and Wayne Rooney operated behind a recalled Falcao and Angel Di Maria.

QPR opted for an old-fashioned 4-4-2, albeit one with a narrow midfield that helped compress play, and pass after pass went astray. An exception was the delightful ball Mata chipped over the Rangers defence for Falcao in the 13th minute, but the latter shot straight at Rob Green. “He has to score,” said Van Gaal of his much-discussed loanee. Falcao missed further chances, but Van Gaal praised his line-leading.

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Rob Green keeps out an effort by Radamel Falcao

The miss could have proved costly had De Gea not made two excellent saves to deny Austin after 19 and 31 minutes. There was little else of note. “In the first half we played like QPR wanted,” said Van Gaal. “We did the same as them, play long balls through the air. But QPR are better at that. We have to play along the ground.

Mata was hooked off at half-time but United did not get any better. Falcao did bring an outstanding save from Green from a Di Maria cross, but that followed a mistake by Steven Caulker. Besides, QPR should have already been leading by then, but Leroy Fer had wasted a free header from a Joey Barton free-kick.

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Wayne Rooney tackles Eduardo Vargas

Wilson then replaced Johnny Evans, and almost immediately Valencia, now a full-back, not a wing-back, was picked out by Rooney on the right and delivered a cross Fellaini dispatched with aplomb. De Gea saved from Maurico Isla late on, but as QPR pushed on, gaps appeared. After Falcao missed two chances set up by Wilson, the youngster scored himself.

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Marouane Fellaini celebrates with his Manchester United team-mates

Harry Redknapp afterwards dismissed reports stating that if this match was lost he would be sacked. “I spoke five times with [owner] Tony Fernandes and he’s never said anything to me, [it’s] just a load of nonsense. Who do you believe? The owner or “an insider”? But what will be will be.”

Redknapp added: “We get the maximum out of the players,” which is a worry for Fernandes if true. It may be the case, but Van Gaal is certainly yet to get the maximum out of his.

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James Wilson scored United's second to seal the win

Line-ups:

QPR: (4-4-2) Green; Isla, Onuoha, Dunne (Caulker, h-t), Hill; Vargas, Barton, Henry, Fer (Taarabt, 70); Zamora (Kranjcar, 80), Austin.

Manchester United: (3-1-4-2) De Gea; Jones, Evans (Wilson, 56), Rojo; Carrick; Valencia, Mata (Fellaini, h-t), Rooney, Blind; Di Maria (Herrera, 90), Falcao.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Man of the match: De Gea (Man Utd)

Match rating: 5/10

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