QPR’s big day ends in humiliation

QPR 0 Bolton 4

QPR’s eagerly awaited return to Premier League action after a 15-year wait ended in humiliation at Loftus Road.

If this was a sign of how Rangers will fare among the elite – and it surely was – then they are in for a brief and painful spell in the top flight.

Two of their summer signings, Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon, made disastrous starts to their R’s careers.

Gabbidon scored an own goal and the injury-plagued Dyer was stretchered off early on after suffering a suspected broken metatarsal.

That summed up a terrible afternoon for Neil Warnock’s side, who ended the match with 10 men after Clint Hill was sent off in stoppage time.

Rangers started well but were rocked just before the interval, when Bolton went ahead through Gary Cahill’s 25-yard bullet.

They tried to hit back after the break but were dealt another blow when Gabbidon inexplicably turned Chris Eagles’ left-wing cross into his own net.

Bolton's third deflected in off Orr

Ivan Klasnic’s shot then deflected in off Bradley Orr for the third, before Fabrice Muamba waltzed through to complete the rout.

The result was a bitter disappointment for the home fans, many of whom barracked owner Flavio Briatore.

Joy among supporters at Rangers’ promotion has long been tempered by ongoing discontent at Briatore’s running of the club.

And after jaw-dropping price increases and limited activity in the transfer market, chickens came home to roost in the form of an opening-day walloping in front of a crowd of just over 15,000 – of which almost 800 were Bolton fans.

Empty seats for QPR’s return to the Premier League would once have seemed inconceivable but are now an inevitable consequence of Briatore’s determination to rebrand Rangers as a haven for wealthy sports fans.

Briatore was accompanied in the directors’ box by Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes, who has discussed joining the QPR board.

As expected, boss Warnock handed debuts to Dyer, Gabbidon, Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell.

And Campbell, who scored just 29 seconds into the recent friendly at Luton on his first appearance for the club, had the ball in the net after only a minute of this match.

Adel Taarabt started like a man possessed and cut in from the left before picking out Bothroyd, who prodded the ball on and an offside Campbell added the final touch.

While Taarabt was eager to prove he can deliver in the top division, Dyer, who started at right-back, was just as eager to prove his injury problems were behind him.

But after only three minutes, the former England international went down under no obvious challenge and was stretchered off in clear distress.

Undeterred, Rangers continued to press and Taarabt caused more panic in the Bolton defence when his ball into the box was misjudged by Gretar Steinsson, who atoned by blocking Bothroyd’s follow-up.

But Bolton managed to stem the flow – and then went ahead through Cahill’s stunner.

That galvanised the visitors, who would have doubled their lead in the opening minute of the second half had Paddy Kenny not produced a fine save to keep out Klasnic’s drive.

Rangers had another escape when Kevin Davies missed the target with a far-post header, before Gabbidon’s 67th-minute howler and Klasnic’s fortuitous goal sealed their fate.

It knocked the stuffing completely out of Rangers, as proved by the ease with which Muamba collected Klasnic’s pass and drifted into the box to help himself to a goal.

That riled the Rangers faithful even more, and Hill also lost his cool. The full-back was red-carded after headbutting Martin Petrov in the chest.