A Belated Christmas Miracle
SHAUN Wright-Phillips shocked more than just Stamford Bridge when he sealed a first Queens Park Rangers away win since November 2011.
The wide-man that was heckled from the field in the defeat at home to Liverpool, rifled home an 80th minute thunderbolt to send the starved travelling supporters into delirium.
Rangers were under pressure throughout the encounter, but Chelsea supporters will undoubtedly bemoan a rather contemptuous team selection by maligned boss Rafael Benitez.
Chelsea rarely threatened with opportunities of substance with Fernando Torres a relative spectator as the visiting defence feasted on an inexperienced Blues front-line.
On the day where Wright-Phillips turned in a performance, Queens Park Rangers got their belated Christmas miracle to dispatch their neighbourhood foe and rekindle their fight for safety.
Harry Redknapp made three changes from the team that were resoundingly beaten at home by Liverpool. Fabio da Silva, Shaun Derry, Esteban Granero and Junior Hoilett came in for Armand Traoré, Samba Diakité, Alejandro Faurlín and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Julio Cesar started behind a defence of Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Fabio. Stephane Mbia and Derry linked up in the middle with Granero, Adel Taarabt and Hoilett playing just in front - Jamie Mackie was the lone front-man.
Rafael Benitez made five changes from the side that beat Everton on Sunday, with Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Ramires, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard dropping out and Ross Turnbull, Ryan Bertrand, Oscar, Victor Moses and Marko Marin coming in.
Turnbull started behind a defence of César Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and Bertrand. Frank Lampard, Oscar and David Luiz comprised the midfield trio with Marin and Moses playing wide of stalwart starter Fernando Torres.
KICK OFF: CHELSEA v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Travelling in trepidation, many QPR supporters were hardly brimming with optimism heading into a clash with local rivals Chelsea. Never before has such a derby been treated with such pessimism, given not only the 6-0 thrashing of last season, but also QPR's recent form.
Heckled off against Liverpool for an undoubtedly poor performance, the two sides were at stark polar opposites. Those who were deriding manager Rafael Benitez were coming around given a good run of results capped off with a fine win against Everton.
Question marks were raised over the team selection of the Chelsea boss, some enforced others purely tactical, as some big hitters such as Juan Mata and Ramires left on the bench for younger talent such as Marko Marin and Victor Moses.
An atmosphere flourished in the away end despite the prevailing home odds, and they rightfully called for the head of Marin when his horror tackle on Stephane Mbia left the Frenchman in a heap on the edge of the QPR penalty area.
Quite what Mr Mason - who handed 'that' penalty to Ashley Young last season - and his linesman saw will be open to debate as they handed Marin only a yellow card. The German youngster very fortunate to remain on the field for such a challenge.
The home side dominated vast swathes of pressure and chances with Clint Hill doing well to deny the aforementioned Marin before David Luiz bounded forward from his newly-discovered midfield berth to scuff an effort into the ground and over Julio Cesar's bar.
Adel Taarabt was looking somewhat stifled but still intent to cause problems to the home rearguard. He nutmegged Frank Lampard to underline his relentless confidence but put a shot wide of the upright from distance.
Rangers were forced into an early change when Junior Hoilett was withdrawn through injury and Shaun Wright-Phillips was thrown on in his stead. The wide-man was thought to be out in the cold after a desperate display at home to Liverpool.
Taarabt put another opportunity directly at Turnbull, before Chelsea resumed their dominance of proceedings. Oscar tried his luck from distance with little substance before the lively Marin cut inside from the left and curled an effort a distance over the right hand upright.
Lampard cajoled and encouraged the young German, who in truth looked the only player likely to scythe open what was a stubborn rearguard. Wright-Phillips nearly opened the scoring after a fine-counter attacking move.
A succession of neat passes saw Granero clip an expert ball over the top for former Chelsea man Wright-Phillips. He took the ball out of the air with aplomb but shot across the target right-footed, putting the ball harmlessly wide.
The QPR midfield was stern and imposing. Mbia covered the pitch and used possession wisely while his partner in Shaun Derry was rolling back the years to snuff out several home attacks - it was proving frustrating viewing for a home crowd baying for attacking football.
Torres' woe continued when his heavy touch inside the penalty area could only hand the ball to Cesar, when in fact it was a golden opportunity to open the scoring for the hosts. Rather understated, the Spaniard elected to take a touch and placed harmlessly wide.
Ivanovic tried his luck twice from distance in close succession - firing the ball into the top tier on both occasions, much to the chagrin of those around him and the previously slumbering home support. Rumblings in the camp as his colleagues berated him for such speculative efforts.
Cesar was at his best to deny Chelsea the opener on the stroke of half time. The ball dropped to Oscar on the edge of the area, and once the Brazilian's effort deflected off Esteban Granero the writing appeared on the wall - Cesar had different ideas, saving with his feet to maintain parity.
The two sides went into the break with contrasting emotions - Rangers would have been buoyed by a solid if unspectacular opening half, while Chelsea will be contemplating missed chances and lack of cutting thrust.
HALF TIME: CHELSEA 0-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
The home side will have been disappointed with the opening half and quickly set about dispatching the Premier League's bottom side. Moses' cross come shot drifted across the target as the Blues turned the screw.
Ivanovic was next to try his luck as he rose highest from a Marin corner to deliver a header goalbound that touched Cesar's bar despite the Brazilian appearing to have the effort covered. Both Lampard and Luiz had shots repelled by the exemplerary Hill.
Hill and Nelsen were proving domineering figures in the QPR back line and were ably marshalling a well organised back four also including the tempered Fabio and Onuoha, who like Hill was on the receiving end of six goals last time out.
A game of pinball threatened to unpick the hard work of the Rangers rearguard with Luiz's shot cannoning back off Mbia and Hill and fortuitously finding its way to Torres. Once again the Spaniard was rather caught on the back foot and Cesar made himself big to deny the striker.
It was a fine save from a goalkeeper inspired, ousting Rob Green on his return from injury to deny a £50m forward from point-blank range. At last Rangers carved out an opportunity on the counter-attack.
Taarabt tantalised once more, in a fantastically selfless performance from the Moroccan. He fed Granero who in turn cut in from the left before curling an effort a tad too low and into the grateful arms of Turnbull - a let off for a Chelsea defence caught on the back foot.
Wright-Phillips then came in from the left only to be denied by a useful block on the edge of the area. Still Rangers continued to press as Granero's corner found its way to Derry on the far post, but his header was directed right at Turnbull come more.
Chelsea brought on Eden Hazard and Juan Mata as they saw the game slipping through their fingers, before Victor Moses delivered a shot of great venom, cutting in from the right to fire inches wide of the left-hand upright.
The home crowd cheered if only for a moment when Lampard fired home from just inside the area, only for the effort to be chalked off rightfully for offside, but what was to come was frankly unthinkable but undeniably just.
Granero saw his corner from the left cleared as far as Taarabt on the edge of the area. With the visiting supporters baying for a shot, he touched neatly aside for SHAUN WRIGHT-PHILLIPS
to lash home a right-footed effort against his former club and beyond Turnbull.
A stunning finish that he celebrated with his fellow players that sparked delirium among the travelling support. It was the stuff that dreams were made of as the maligned wide-man turned hero in a moment of magic.
Ramires came on for Lampard as Chelsea peppered the QPR area with little substance. Ivanovic going closest as he glanced over the bar with three minutes of injury time on the clock, making for a nervy finale.
It was was however a victory and a clean sheet for QPR, their first at Stamford Bridge in the league since 1979. Wright-Phillips joins Goddard, Roeder and Busby as QPR stunned Chelsea and the Premier League to claim their first away win since November 2011.
FINAL WHISTLE: CHELSEA 0-1 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
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