Hope for Sousa as winless run ends

Queen's Park Rangers 1 Swansea City

By Conrad Leach
Wednesday 18 March 2009 01:00

As players of the same age group, there was no comparison between Paulo Sousa and Roberto Martinez, the former being the famed Portugal international with Champions League winner's medals from two consecutive seasons in the mid-Nineties, with two different clubs, the latter a Spaniard who became famous, in Wigan at least, thanks to his work in the bottom two divisions with Wigan Athletic.

As managers, there has been some sort of role reversal, to judge by the Championship table, although Sousa is newer to this part of the game. But this victory last night showed that Sousa, the Queen's Park Rangers manager, has designs on besting his fellow Iberian there, too. He showed how proud he was of this result, when he said: "We've had a lot of critics and adversity inside and outside the club, but we beat the best football-playing team in the division, who have had the same manager for four years. As for the play-offs, we keep trying to win every game. But we have 10 players out injured."

Not that one victory in 10 games is any reason yet for the former Juventus and Borussia Dortmund midfielder to claim he has mastered the art of management, although it lifted Rangers to within four points of Swansea City and seven points shy of the play-offs. Martinez has certainly mastered the art of not taking defeat kindly, blaming the bumpy pitch for affecting his players, but an 11th game in 36 days is as good a reason as any for his side failing to push into the top six.

There was never likely to be much more than a single-goal margin at Loftus Road. After all, Swansea have drawn more games than anyone else in the division and Rangers had not scored in their previous four matches. Take away Dexter Blackstock, Rangers' top scorer with 12 goals, as the result of a hamstring injury, and the odds were even shorter.

Curiously, Martinez did likewise with his main attacking threat, Jason Scotland, leaving him on the bench. He did introduce the striker later, but he was unable to provide an equaliser.

The closest the hosts came to scoring early on was when Adel Taarabt appeared to be brought down in the penalty area, although the referee ignored all claims. There seemed to be less danger in the 30th minute when Jordi Lopez curled in a free-kick from 40 yards out, but then Mikele Leigertwood got in front of his marker to head past Dorus De Vries to foster some late-season optimism in west London.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-5-1): Cerny; Ramage, Hall (Delaney, 84), Gorkss, Connolly; Alberti, Ephraim, Lopez (Miller, 87), Leigertwood, Taarabt; Di Carmine (Helguson, 74). Substitutes not used: Vine, German.

Swansea City (4-4-2): De Vries; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Serran; Gomez (Dyer, 62), Allen (Britton, 87), Pratley, Butler; Pintado (Scotland, 69), Bauza. Substitutes not used: Orlandi, Collins.

Referee: G Horwood (Bedfordshire).

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