Resilient Rangers Stifle City
QUEENS Park Rangers and in particular Julio Cesar put on a defensive masterclass to frustrate Manchester City and continue their unbeaten run in the league in 2013. The R's managed to claim what could well be a priceless point as the champions were left to rue missed opportunities.
Rangers had little of the ball yet kept City's chances to a minimum with Julio Cesar making several world class saves.
R's talisman Adel Taarabt was in fine form and came close on a couple of occasions but couldn't find the net. However, he was a constant threat to the City defence.
Loic Remy was also impressive, working the channels well. His movement was second to none and his link up play with Taarabt is promising showing early signs of a dangerous partnership.
Roberto Mancini's men will feel aggrieved that they didn't win the game but resolute defending and whole-hearted commitment proved to be the key ingredients for QPR's success in the match.
Harry Redknapp reverted back to his tried and tested players after the weekend's catastrophic cup tie against MK Dons. The R's lined up with Julio Cesar in between the sticks, with Nedum Onuoha, Ryan Nelsen, Clint Hill, and Armand Traore making up the defence. Recalled to the midfield were Stephane Mbia, Shaun Derry joining Esteban Granero, with Fabio Da Silva, Loic Remy and Adel Taarabt making up the attack.
Manchester City started with Joe Hart behind a defence of Pablo Zabaleta, Javi Garcia, Joleon Lescott and Gael Clichy. The midfield consisted of Gareth Barry James Milner and David Silva, with Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero starting in attack.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v MANCHESTER CITY
The pattern of the game was very clear right from the offset with City controlling the tempo and keeping the ball for large periods of time. The manner in which QPR defended in the first half was reminiscent of the Chelsea game, with Redknapp's men getting lots of bodies behind the ball and staying compact. The first chance of the half came from a Manchester City corner, a left-footed in swinger from David Silva caught the wind and Julio Cesar punched unconvincingly with the ball dropping to Joleon Lescott, who managed to volley over from six yards.
City were a constant threat from corners, which seems strange considering their lack of height, but the swirling wind made life rather difficult for Cesar, who initially looked uncertain when dealing with corners.
QPR's best player in the first half was Adel Taarabt, who rarely lost possession, showing incredible amounts of composure and vision to carve out chances on the counter attack. Around the 35th minute, QPR's best chance of the half fell to Adel, who charged up field after Joleon Lescott gave it away, the Moroccan showed terrific pace to leave Gael Clichy behind but was thwarted by Joe Hart at the near post. The England goalkeeper closed the angle of the one on one very quickly and got his body in the way of Taarabt's effort.
Shortly after, City almost broke the deadlock themselves, when they got down the left hand side after a slip by Stephane Mbia, the ball was cut back to Gareth Barry, on the edge of the box, who then curled the ball to the near post but the R's stopper Cesar flew across goal to make an unbelievable reflex save.
The second half saw City up the tempo and come after the QPR. Rangers managed to keep their composure and organisation to repel City's advances on goal. Around the 68th minute, Cesar managed to stop a close-range shot from David Silva, which again demonstrated his talent as a stopper. It was a very sharp reflex save and was every bit as good as the one in the first half.
Man City continued to press and were soon appealing for a penalty, when Scott Sinclair went to ground inside the QPR penalty area, after Nedum Onouha appeared to lunge in. However, the replay showed that the former City defender had made contact with the ball. Up the other end Loic Remy had gone to ground on the edge of the City box claiming a foul by Joleon Lescoot, but again referee Phil Dowd made the right decision to not award anything.
The game continued to ebb and flow until Harry Redknapp made three late changes, which really disrupted City. Redknapp highlighted his tactical nous leaving the changes till the very last opportunity, as it proved to be a boost for the R's and had a detrimental effect on City's attempts to score a late winner.
FINAL WHISTLE: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-0 MANCHESTER CITY
The R's will be over the moon with the point against the champions, as they look to close the gap at the bottom. Julio Cesar put on a goalkeeping masterclass with several outstanding saves. His shot-stopping gave the defence the added belief that they could continue to shut out City. Like the Chelsea game, the longer the match went on, the more confident QPR became, which only added to City's frustration, typified by Gareth Barry, who lost the plot somewhat in the second half.
Rangers were a threat on the break, with Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy going close. Redknapp will be buoyed by the character displayed by his team and with a few additions to cover the outgoing players, Rangers could yet stand a chance this year.