Stoke vs QPR match report: Jonathan Walters marks celebration with landmark hat-trick

Stoke 3 QPR 1: Walters' superb hat-trick maintains Rangers' dismal record on the road

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The Independent Football

On an afternoon when Stoke City celebrated today’s 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir Stanley Matthews, a piece of modern history was made, Jonathan Walters becoming the first of their players to score a hat-trick in the Premier League.

He had claimed two goals in the space of 12 minutes during the first half, at which point the home side were coasting, only for Niko Kranjcar to jolt them out of any complacency. By the time Walters capitalised on another defensive error in the 92nd minute, the home crowd were willing the final whistle – if only to get away from the bitter cold.

So Queens Park Rangers had nothing to show for a greatly improved second-half performance and were left with an unwanted record of their own: 11 away defeats to start the season being the worst such run in the top division since Liverpool 60‑odd years ago. 

Their supporters, 1,257 of whom were present yesterday, deserve an award for continuing to turn up. They would have been heartened by much of what Rangers produced after a dismal opening half-hour, although possibly not as optimistic as Harry Redknapp who said, “At 2‑1 at half-time I thought we could win the game, I really did. I still think we’ve got every chance of getting out of trouble.”

Stoke will do well to remain as high as ninth after the injury that will keep their main creative influence, Bojan Krkic, out until next season. Even the two goals they scored in the first half-an-hour stemmed from Rangers losing possession.

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Harry Redknapp has been under pressure in recent weeks

Eduardo Vargas played Karl Henry into trouble and Stephen Ireland produced a flick that Bojan would have admired to put Walters in for his first goal. Then Vargas lost the ball and Walters sent Ireland down the right before converting his pass.

Any hopes of an easy ride quickly disappeared when Rangers poached their sixth goal in those 11 away games. As the industrious Joey Barton cut the ball back, leading scorer Charlie Austin miscued but Kranjcar was unmarked for a tap-in.

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Niko Kranjcar scored QPR's only goal of the day

In the second half Barton and Leroy Fer both went close with fierce wind-assisted free-kicks from distance, but in added time, Barton headed back across his own penalty area and Walters completed a hat-trick to mark his 200th appearance on a memorable day for the club.

Line-ups:

Stoke City (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross (Muniesa, 42), Wollscheid, Wilson; Nzonzi, Whelan; Arnautovic (Crouch, 63), Ireland (Adam, 72), Moses; Walters.

Queens Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): Green; Isla, Onuoha, Dunne, Hill (Yun, 75); Barton, Henry (Zamora, h-t); Vargas, Fer, Kranjcar (Hoilett, 68); Austin.

Referee: Mike Dean

Man of the match: Walters (Stoke)

Match rating: 8/10

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