Liverpool see off Rangers' late revival

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers 1 Liverpool 2

If there is still a realistic race on for the Premiership title, Liverpool remained in it yesterday. But only just.

Two up after half an hour, they allowed a Rangers side for whom relegation looms increasingly large to get back into the match, but the home team's frantic finish yielded nothing useful.

QPR's fragile self-esteem survived for just 14 minutes. When John Scales, drove in a shot which was deflected off Ian Holloway, the ball fell temptingly for Scales' defensive partner Mark Wright. Unmarked, he ran on as in a dream sequence (his own) before driving the ball past the unguarded Jurgen Sommer with the outside of his right foot.

Rangers responded with a flurry of activity, but when they reached goal the flurry melted like so much insubstantial snow.

After 29 minutes Liverpool demonstrated once again how it was done. A long ball from Stan Collymore - one of several he produced throughout the half - and sent Robbie Fowler racing towards goal closely accompanied by his marker, Danny Maddix. Sommer, mistakenly, rushed out to the edge of his box and with one cobra flick of the foot, Liverpool's little forward demonstrated the goalscorer's art. In that one movement he rendered defender and goalkeeper redundant and directed the ball steadily but surely inside the post to put Liverpool 2-0 up.

Within five minutes Rangers claimed - with justification - that they should have had a free-kick in the Liverpool six-yard area after Rob Jones had controlled an incoming cross with his knee and knocked the ball for the keeper to collect. It was accomplished defending, it also constituted an illegal back-pass, but no free-kick was awarded.

A minute later, Kevin Gallen wasted an opportunity to pull a goal back, heading over after Daniele Dichio had knocked back a cross. QPR ended the half on a note of defiance as Maddix volleyed over following a corner. But it was a plaintive note.

There seemed no way through for QPR but after 65 minutes a stroke of luck transformed the character of the match when Dichio's speculative shot from outside the box deflected into the net off the stunned figure of Phil Babb.

The home team - and crowd - suddenly sensed real hope and first Dichio and then Trevor Sinclair might have provided more tangible satisfaction. Each dribbled into the heart of the Liverpool defence before blazing over.

Goals: Wright (15) 0-1; Fowler (30) 0-2; Dichio (66) 1-2.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Bardsley, Maddix, Yates, Brevett; Sinclair, Barker, Quashie, Holloway; Gallen, Dichio. Substitutes not used: Allen, Goodridge, Challis.

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Wright, Scales, Babb; McAteer, Thomas, Barnes, McManaman, Jones; Fowler (Redknapp, 76), Collymore. Substitutes not used: Rush, Warner (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Bookings: QPR Bardsley, Brevett, Maddix.

Man of the match: Fowler.

Attendance: 18,405.