LONDON — Following Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 win at Loftus Road on Saturday, Spurs moved up to sixth after a hard-fought derby win.
[ RELATED: Spurs set up United clash ]
Harry Kane was, once again, the hero for Spurs as his double saw off a lively QPR outfit who are battling against relegation.
We learned plenty about QPR’s mettle and Spurs’ resolve in the race for the top four, and here’s three things we learned from the narrow victory.
AUSTIN vs. KANE: HARRY GETS THE NOD, JUST
England manager Roy Hodgson was at Loftus Road on Saturday, presumably to run the rule over two call ups to his next squad at the end of March. Charlie Austin’s potential England debut has been talked about for quite some time with 15 goals so far this season, and he did his chances no harm whatsoever on Saturday with a workmanlike display. Plus there’s another young English striker champing at the bit to represent the Three Lions after a superb first full season in the PL: Harry Kane.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Saturday was a chance to see both England hopefuls up close in the same game and it’s hard to separate one from the other as both impressed. Kane’s header in the 4th minute was stopped superbly by Robert Green, but either side of the QPR ‘keeper and he would have scored. With the rich vein of form Kane’s been in, you have to put that one in the “opportunities squandered” column. He made up for that with two fine finishes later in the game.
In the 12th minute we saw another side to Austin, as he controlled a loose ball and won a free kick in a dangerous area on the left. Things then flared up between him and future England international teammate Kyle Walker as Austin stood his ground and fronted up Walker. As you would expect from a man who has made his way up from the ninth-tier of English soccer, a bit of rough and tumble doesn’t put him off. In the 30th minute Austin then showed what a poacher he is as he took one touch in a crowded box to set himself up and rifled a shot from 12-yards out which struck the underside of the crossbar and somehow cannoned out.
[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]
The duel between Kane and Austin continued in the 34th minute Kane proved why he may be ahead of Austin in the pecking order for an England call up. After running clear and winning a slightly dubious free kick, Kane then headed Spurs into a 1-0 lead seconds after QPR’s fans were chanting “you’re just a s*** Charlie Austin.” Austin battered Spurs’ backline for the rest of the game in search of an equalizer as he thumped one at Lloris in the 45th minute and even cleared Eriksen’s goalbound effort at the other end before his cross eventually found Sandro to slot home QPR’s goal. But Kane’s extra class shone through in the 69th minute as he coolly rounded Green and slotted home his 16th PL goal of the season and 26th in all competitions. So, Kane won the battle of the England hopefuls as he scored for the fifth away game running and is in red-hot form to boost Spurs’ top four chances. If Hodgson selects Kane, Austin or both for England’s next matches, chances are both can replicate their success in the PL on the international stage.
LACK OF POISE, NOT LUCK, HURTING QPR
Before Saturday’s game QPR’s head coach Chris Ramsey acknowledged in his matchday notes that his QPR side can’t keep blaming bad luck, as they’ve now lost seven of their last eight PL matches and are running out of time to stay in the top-flight.
“I am fully aware that you can’t keep being unlucky in the Premier League,” Ramsey said. “You can’t always be sorry that you’ve lost a game. Little bits of details cost us. I thought the players gave everything, but when you’re playing at this level it’s the small details that matter.”
Those small details evaded QPR once again on Saturday, as Austin’s shot hit the crossbar, Green came for a cross he didn’t need to for the first goal and deploying a shambolic high-line for Kane and Spurs’ second goal finished themselves off. That lucky break QPR has been praying for didn’t arrive as Isla looked to have been taken out in the first half in the box and Austin’s shot was clearly blocked by Nabil Bentaleb’s hand late on but no penalty was awarded by Craig Pawson on either occasion.
[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]
With 10 games to go, there’s still plenty of hope at Loftus Road as the R’s are only three points from safety and the next three matches will likely define their season with a home game against Everton sandwiched in-between trips to Crystal Palace and West Brom.
GREEN NOT READY FOR ENGLAND CALL
In Rob Green, QPR have another player who could possibly be called up to the English national team when Hodgson names his squad for the games against Lithuania and Italy in late March. Green has been in sensational form for most of the season, as his performance against Arsenal in midweek was followed up by a mixed display against Spurs on Saturday. After just four minutes Green pulled off a world class reflex save as Kane powered a header on goal, but then Green ventured into nomansland for Kane’s first goal and completely missed the ball.
After his blunder during the 2010 World Cup for England against the USA (ah, yes, that Clint Dempsey goal) Green has been out of the picture for the Three Lions. We may see him recalled by Hodgson for the next set of matches, but with Joe Hart and Fraser Forster the undisputed no.1 an no.2 respectively, Green’s recall could be down to Ben Foster’s shaky form for West Bromwich Albion more than anything else. Still, Green is having a great season even if he made one mistake on Saturday.