After a match of tons chances and an equal amount of frustration, things exploded in the final 10 minutes at Loftus Road and left us with a 3-2 Liverpol win.
Liverpool were second-best for much of the match, but went ahead midway through the second half on a Richard Dunne own goal that would have Harry Redknapp fuming. That was all the match gave us after gobs of near-misses on either end.
Then, it exploded. Eduardo Vargas came on for Bobby Zamora and scored twice in the final six minutes, but a Philippe Coutinho goal would help the Reds and an own goal by Steven Caulker at the final whistle was the deathblow.
QPR had the brightest of moments in the opening minutes. Bobby Zamora flashed over in the first minutes, and a few ticks later Charlie Austin was clean through on goal but Simon Mignolet held strong to deny QPR an opener.
The home side remained the brighter squad for much of the opening half-hour, and three minutes before that 30-minute mark they had another chance to break the deadlock. Zamora sprung down the right and delivered a ball into the box. It was deflected only as far as a streaking Leroy Fer, but his blistering shot clattered the crossbar.
QPR somehow remained scoreless before halftime when again Zamora ran things on the wing, delivering a pair of stellar crosses that found the head of Fer. Again though his shot hit the crossbar and came out, and a furious scrum somehow denied the home side a deserved goal.
The halftime whistle came mercifully for the Reds who seemed lucky to be level, but it would come back at them as if halftime never happened. Sandro ripped a thunderbolt on net just two minutes after halftime that forced a top save from Mignolet.
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Despite the QPR dominance, they found nothing, and the game slowed until Liverpool had their chance to snatch the lead. Adam Lallana took the first shot on the end of a break, and it forced a diving save from Alex McCarthy. The rebound fell to the feet of Mario Balotelli, who had been poor to this point, and with the goal wide open in front of him he lashed over the bar from point blank range.
The shocking miss stunned the ground, home and away fans alike, and spoke to the 24-year-old’s horrific form of late. But Liverpool’s pressure slowly grew, and Balotelli’s miss was vindicated. Raheem Sterling was taken down on the wing, and while he slowly got to his feet, every QPR player relaxed and turned their backs to the ball. Sterling suddenly popped up and took the free kick, and with QPR players slow to react, Richard Dunne put the ball in his own net.
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Then madness ensued. QPR believed they had something when Eduardo Vargas equalized, finally snatching a goal for the home side with six minutes to go, but that was just the beginning.
Philippe Coutinho scored a curler a few minutes later to restore Liverpool’s lead, but it wouldn’t last long. Stoppage time entered, and QPR equalized again on another from Vargas, off his head after a scrum in the box. But joy again was shortlived from Harry Redknapp.
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Liverpool’s winner came thanks to Raheem Sterling’s burst just before the final whistle, and his cross to Balotelli at full speed struck trailing defender Steven Caulker for another killer own goal.
The win is vital for Liverpool, who lift themselves to fifth in the table with a second win in a row. Meanwhile, it’s a massive blow to QPR who will no doubt believe they deserved something from that match, if not all three points. They remain bottom of the table.
QPR: McCarthy; Isla, Onuoha (Phillips 46′), Dunne, Caulker, Suk-Young; Sandro (Traore 60′), Fer, Henry; Austin, Zamora (Vargas 79′)
Goals: Vargas 87′, 90+3′
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Enrique; Gerrard, Can (Allen 66′), Henderson; Lallana (Coutinho 66′), Sterling, Balotelli.
Goals: Dunne (og) 67′, Coutinho 90′, Caulker 90’+