Chelsea never lose quietly, and so it was yesterday. Two men sent off, the manager accosting the referee after the match, and to cap it off, the captain embroiled in a racism row. Amid it all QPR achieved their first Premier League win at Loftus Road since being relegated 15 years ago.
The repercussions rumbled on late into the evening with John Terry issuing a statement denying he had racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. Footage had circulated on the internet, and twitter, with amateur lip-readers claiming he had racially and crudely insulted Ferdinand.
Terry, who had a series of flare-up with Rangers players, said: "I would never say such a thing, and I'm saddened that people would think so." He added: "I absolutely believe that there is no place for racism in sport and indeed in any walk of life." And he claimed he had made peace with Ferdinand. There was no comment from the latter.
The row followed a tempestuous match in which Chelsea had two red cards, incurred by Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba, and seven yellow. Andre Villas-Boas confronted referee Chris Foy in the tunnel and, by his own description "aggressively" told the official what was wrong with his performance.
The Chelsea manager accused Foy of being swayed by the home support in this cockpit of a stadium, claiming the occasion was "too big" for the referee.
"We were the better team with nine men," said Villas-Boas. "In a normal day with a referee with good judgement towards both teams we win the game. The officials were led by the emotion of the crowd and applied uneven decision making."
Neil Warnock saw things differently. "When you get beat like that it is easy to blame the ref instead of looking at your own mistakes," said the QPR manager. "I used to do that." Warnock added pertinently, given the way Chelsea's self-discipline broke down as the game wore on: "The top clubs are not used to having their feathers ruffled, but they have no divine right to beat you."
The sound and fury that accompanied this match was a product of recent history. It was 15 years since these clubs had met, and back then the matchwinner was Paul Furlong, the former Enfield striker then leading Chelsea's attack.
A decade later Furlong, in his late thirties, was playing for QPR in the third tier while Chelsea were making themselves a power in Europe. It has been a long haul back for Rangers and the home support were both relishing and fearing this meeting. So limited are Rangers' resources Warnock had to recall Clint Hill from a loan at Nottingham Forest. In a 14-year career Hill had only played one previous top-flight match, on the opening day of this season when he was sent off as Rangers lost 4-0 at home to Bolton.
Looking at the respective team-sheets it seemed QPR's only chance was if Chelsea imploded or they had the benefit of the doubt when it came to the officiating. In the event both happened. An inconsequential start came to life when Helguson chased a high ball into the Chelsea box, bumping David Luiz in the process. Luiz bumped him back rather harder and Helguson crumpled. He got up to convert the penalty, only Rangers' seventh goal of the season.
For the next 24 minutes Chelsea had huge amounts of possession, but did little with it as Rangers pressed and harried. Then Adel Taarabt, who had been anonymous, came to life releasing Wright-Phillips. As the little striker sped away Bosingwa leaned into him, tugged his shorts, and both fell. Foy, to Chelsea's horror, showed Bosingwa a red card. Villas-Boas said he thought it was a yellow as Terry was coming across to cover but the England captain would never have got there in time.
Eight minutes later Chelsea were down to nine. Drogba lost the ball in midfield and trying to recover it, lunged into Taarabt. Villas-Boas had no argument with that dismissal. Chelsea, driven on by a sense of injustice, opened the second period with a wave of attacks. There were a series of penalty appeals. One, when Fitz Hall tugged Frank Lampard, should have been given but so eagerly were Chelsea diving Foy may had decided to ignore all claims.
There was one clear-cut chance, Nicolas Anelka heading straight at Paddy Kenny. It had been 16 years since QPR last won this derby, and it was Chelsea's first defeat to a newly promoted team in a decade.
"I'm proud of my players," said Villas-Boas. Warnock was even prouder of his. "They'll talk about this in 30-40 years," he said of QPR's jubilant support. "In that respect it's one of the greatest days of my career."
Booked: QPR Derry, Barton. Chelsea Mikel, Lampard, Ivanovic, Luiz, Meireles, Cole, Terry. Sent-off: Chelsea Bosingwa (33), Drogba (41).
Man of the match: Kenny
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside)
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