Queens Park Rangers vs Hull match report: James Chester disrupts Rio Ferdinand’s ‘masterclass’
QPR 0 Hull 1: Former England defender’s single mistake and Austin’s late penalty miss ruin Rangers’ return
Two old-school English managers sent out teams very much à la mode with three central defenders and wing-backs, the result proving only that players not tactics decide matches. Rio Ferdinand spoilt an otherwise immaculate debut with one lapse, allowing James Chester to head what proved to be the only goal, and Charlie Austin had his late penalty saved.
Anti-climax, then, for Queens Park Rangers, who can nevertheless surely be relied on to improve on a record of four League victories last time they were in the Premier League, two years ago; and delight for Hull City, enjoying exciting times after a dramatic FA Cup final in May that has earned them European football.
They cross to Belgium on Thursday for the first leg of a tie against Lokeren that could offer the dubious reward of a place in the group stage of the Europa League, but Steve Bruce will change almost all of yesterday’s side, knowing precisely what his priorities are. “We need 10 wins, one a month, so nine to go,” he said. “It sounds easy but it ain’t.”
This one would not have materialised if Allan McGregor had not fallen to his right to save Austin’s penalty-kick in the 82nd minute, awarded harshly for handball by the excellent Chester. “It’s just ridiculous,” Bruce said of referees’ penchant for penalising inadvertent handling offences, something he regularly telephoned the officials’ overseer Mike Riley about last season. “It’s supposed to be deliberate. Chester’s hand was down by his side. Twenty years ago it would never have been a penalty.”
Bruce was also correct that Hull should have been given a penalty in the first half when Armand Traoré barged into the back of Nikica Jelavic. Apart from a Jelavic header, that was Hull’s only threatening moment before the interval but they improved after it, despite losing Bruce’s son Alex and new signing Robert Snodgrass to injuries; Snodgrass’s could be ligament damage.
Stephen Quinn proved a lively substitute for Snodgrass, and it was from his corner in the 52nd minute – a disputed one – that Chester eluded Ferdinand, who failed to get off the ground, and headed past Robert Green. Three centre-halves or not, Green then needed to save well when Hull had a man over and Quinn put Tom Ince clear.
Rangers benefited from their substitutions, however, dominating the final quarter of an hour in which the penalty was merely the best of several opportunities. Austin headed a corner against the base of a post and Loïc Rémy came belatedly alive, giving Bobby Zamora half a chance and then forcing McGregor to save.
Harry Redknapp has seen enough first-day results not to be dismayed by this one, especially since he felt the performance was “better than the majority of last season’s”. He described Ferdinand’s debut as “almost a masterclass of how to play at the back” and was pleased with his other newcomers Steven Caulker, who had a header cleared off the line in the first half, and Jordon Mutch, who missed with one when he should have scored. Redknapp, being Redknapp, still hopes to add to the squad this week.
QPR (3-5-2): Green; Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne (Zamora, 78); Simpson (Phillips, 68), Faurlin (Hoilett, 68), Mutch, Barton, Traoré; Rémy, Austin.
Hull (3-5-2): McGregor; Bruce (McShane, 46), Chester, Davies; Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Robertson, Snodgrass (Quinn, 39); Ince (Meyler, 81), Jelavic.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Man of the match: Curtis Davies (Hull)
Match rating: 6/10
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