Yorke keeps QPR in danger zone

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The Independent Online
Aston Villa 4

Milosevic 18, Yorke 65, 80, Yates 82 og


Dichio 50, Gallen 59

Attendance: 28,221

IF QPR are going to reach safety, the prevailing wind now needs to swing 360 degrees. Their hopes were all but blown away at Villa Park yesterday when after leading 2-1 on the hour they succumbed to late goals.

The visit to Villa Park was only the first of Rangers' forbidding string of remaining matches that looks horribly like a rope around their neck. Next Saturday it is Manchester United and next month they go to Newcastle.

Ray Wilkins' hoped that one of the six wins out of nine matches he thought essential to stay in the Premiership might come yesterday. Such optimism appeared ill-founded once Savo Milosevic had taken a few early threatening attempts to worm through a defence still lacking the experience of Alan McDonald.

Milosevic's liking for drawing defenders close before leaving them in frustrated clusters was emphasised in the 17th minute when Dwight Yorke neatly laid off an inviting short pass in the penalty area. Milosevic attracted the attention of three defenders but eluded them all with a sharp, scoring shot beyond Jurgen Sommer. Escaping alone a few minutes later, Milosevic again seemed to have Sommer at his mercy but the goalkeeper came out and appeared to pull him to the ground - though not according to the referee who was racing to catch up.

A couple of chances flickered for Rangers but even their only truly top class player, Trevor Sinclair, was wasteful, leaving Villa to live perilously in their own penalty area. Gary Charles dropped a long shot on to their crossbar and Andy Townsend's link-up with the recovered Mark Draper ensured that both Milosevic and Yorke were handsomely supplied from midfield.

The absence from the Villa side of Tommy Johnson, Steve Staunton and Ian Taylor was something they seemed well capable of ignoring. Indeed it appeared inevitable that Rangers would suffer further setbacks in the second half. Even so, Sinclair's persistence and skill on the ball deserved reward.

Immediately after half time Sinclair probed eagerly. Only an important tackle by Riccardo Scimeca a few yards in front of the Villa goal denied him. The opportunity was enough to give Rangers new incentive. A centre by Sinclair appeared to fall comfortably for Paul McGrath but uncharacteristically he failed to clear, merely lifting the ball high above fellow defenders. It dropped to Daniele Dichio who stuck in a comfortable equaliser.

Suddenly Villa were defending hard but not convincingly. David Bardsley slammed a shot straight at Mark Bosnich and the pace was such that the goalkeeper was unable to grasp the ball which bounced back out for Gallen to hit back in on the hour.

For several minutes Villa looked desperately troubled and Rangers saw hope. But Yorke's predatory instinct was to bring them back. In the 65th minute Charles played a short cross into the line of defenders strung across the Rangers penalty area. In spite of being outnumbered and certainly in an unfavourable position, Yorke got up to the ball with an overhead kick for the equaliser.

In spite of their largely ineffective first half performance, Rangers had shown enough spirit to come away with a share of the points. Instead, they suffered a painful last quarter of an hour, mainly at the skilful feet and head of Yorke. He snatched the game away from them when left unmarked close in. Another header, this time following Mark Draper's cross, sunk into the net, and substitute Julian Joachim settled the game, and perhaps Rangers' fate, pushing in a fourth from Wright's ball low into the area.