Despair for Rangers as Fulham win derby

Fulham 3 QPR 2

QPR’s hopes of escaping the drop were dealt a savage blow despite their second-half fightback in a pulsating derby at Craven Cottage.

Fulham raced into a three-goal lead but were left clinging on, particularly after the 79th-minute sending-off of Steve Sidwell.

But cling on they did, leaving their neighbours on the brink of a return to the Championship after two big-spending seasons in the top flight.

Dimitar Berbatov’s two goals, one of them a penalty, put the Whites in command before Clint Hill’s own goal.

Adel Taarabt pulled one back a minute before the interval and soon after the restart Mark Schwarzer saved a penalty from Loic Remy, who quickly atoned by making it 3-2.

But Rangers were unable to find an equaliser and they remain seven points adrift of 17th-placed Wigan.

Chris Samba, the £12.5m January signing championed by manager Harry Redknapp, was at fault for both Fulham’s all-important early goals.

First, he brought down Ashkan Dejagah, with Berbatov tucking away the resulting spot-kick.

Then Samba dallied on the ball and was robbed by Damien Duff, who set up Berbatov for the second.

The Bulgarian’s finish – a clever nudge into the corner with the outside of his right boot – was his fifth goal in six matches and left Rangers facing a mammoth task.

Worse followed for the visitors four minutes before half-time.

John Arne Riise burst down the left and fired towards the six-yard box, where the ball rebounded off Hill and into the net.

Out of nothing, QPR were given hope shortly before the break.

After Giorgos Karagounis’ slip, Bobby Zamora laid the ball off to Taarabt, who found the bottom corner from 20 yards despite keeper Schwarzer getting a hand to the shot.

Zamora, playing against the club he left in order to jump on the Rangers bandwagon, had earlier missed a good chance by blazing hopelessly over – much to the delight of the home fans who booed him throughout.

Their delight turned to anxiety when a trademark moment of skill by Taarabt – and another error by Karagounis – resulted in a penalty three minutes into the second half.

But after Karagounis was tricked into tripping the Moroccan playmaker, Schwarzer dived to his left to keep out Remy’s kick.

Remy made amends two minutes later, getting in front of Philippe Senderos and smashing in off the underside of the bar after being put through by Stephane Mbia.

However, Remy missed a decent chance to level, shooting over having seemingly done the hard part by squirming away from Brede Hangeland.

Schwarzer then saved well to deny Zamora, before Sidwell was red-carded for a reckless challenge on Armand Traore, leaving Fulham to battle on with 10 men.

Fulham:  Schwarzer, Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise, Dejagah (Emanuelson 38) (Frimpong 80), Sidwell, Karagounis, Duff, Ruiz, Berbatov.
Subs not used: Etheridge, Richardson, Hughes, Rodallega, Frei.

QPR: Cesar, Bosingwa, Samba, Hill (Onuoha 45), Traore (Mackie 83), Townsend, Mbia, Jenas, Taarabt (Hoilett 74), Zamora, Remy.
Subs not used: Green, Park, Granero, Ben Haim.



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