Barton sent off as QPR lose again
QPR 1 Norwich 2
Joey Barton scored and was later sent off as QPR’s alarming decline continued.
Barton netted from 10 yards out following Clint Hill’s left-wing cross but was then given his marching orders after lashing out at Bradley Johnson.
The dismissal gave Norwich a massive boost and they equalised when Anthony Pilkington found the bottom corner with a fine left-footed strike from outside the penalty area.
And Steve Morison’s late goal won it for City, who are safely nestled in mid-table and enjoying a smoother return to the Premier League than Rangers despite their relatively modest spending.
Barton’s indiscipline was all too familiar – and there was nothing new about Rangers being undone by a Paul Lambert substitution.
At Carrow Road in November, the Canaries boss brought on Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt shortly before they combined for City’s winner.
This time he introduced Hoolahan and Morison as part of a triple change midway through the second half.
And his decision paid off, with Elliott Bennett heading Hoolahan’s 83rd-minute cross down to Morison, who made no mistake.
The result extended Rangers’ run without a win to eight matches and means they will sink into the bottom three if Wigan beat Sunderland tomorrow.
Norwich have not kept a clean sheet in the league this season and it took the home side only 11 minutes to go ahead.
Alejandro Faurlin was the orchestrator, chipping a perfectly-weighted ball into the path of Hill, whose centre enabled Barton to grab his first goal at Loftus Road.
But Rangers were left to defend the lead with 10 men when Barton was red-carded in the 36th minute for violent conduct after clashing with Johnson in full view of assistant referee David Richardson.
That lead lasted only six more minutes before being wiped out by Pilkington, who was afforded far too much time and space after collecting Johnson’s pass.
Rangers manager Neil Warnock responded by making a change at half-time, bringing Shaun Wright-Phillips on for Jamie Mackie.
Wright-Phillips soon made an impact, running at the heart of the Norwich defence and teeing up Adel Taarabt, who poked his shot wide.
Taarabt then went close with a free-kick keeper John Ruddy dived to his right to claw away, before Paddy Kenny also reacted quickly to keep out a low shot from Bennett at the other end.
Keeper Kenny was back in the starting line-up along with fit-again centre-back Anton Ferdinand, whose performance was one of his best for the R’s.
Striker Federico Macheda, whose loan move from Manchester United was rubber-stamped in time for him to make his debut, was brought on for the final 10 minutes.
Had he been braver, Macheda might have beaten Ruddy to Wright-Phillips’ right-wing cross and scored with his first touch.
Instead it was Lambert’s switch that proved decisive – again – leaving Warnock to hope his planned January spending spree halts Rangers’ slide.