Smith gives QPR momentous victory

Everton 0 QPR 1

Tommy Smith netted a first-half winner as QPR celebrated Tony Fernandes’ takeover with the Premier League victory their fans have waited 15 years for.

New majority shareholder Fernandes was unable to be at Goodison Park, where Smith’s cool finish after being set up by Akos Buzsaky capped a momentous week for Rangers. The opening-day debacle at home to Bolton seems a lifetime away now.

What made this result – Everton’s first home league defeat since November – all the more remarkable was that Rangers’ preparations were wrecked by a virus in the camp.

Patrick Agyemang, who was stretchered off with a leg injury in the second half, was not a name many expected to be on a QPR team sheet this season.

But he started along with Buzsaky because summer signings Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell were both ill. Bothroyd was on the bench and replaced Agyemang when he went off, while Campbell missed out altogether.

Rangers were also forced to make changes in defence, with Bradley Orr starting in place of the injured Kieron Dyer and Matt Connolly filling in at left-back for the suspended Clint Hill.

Connolly has rarely looked comfortable in that position but it was Liverpudlian Orr who was under more pressure in the first half.

Orr, a lifelong Liverpool fan despite being on Everton’s books as a youngster, had his hands full dealing with the marauding runs of England left-back Leighton Baines, who was the home side’s main attacking outlet.

And Baines went close to putting Everton ahead with a 23rd-minute free-kick that crashed down off the underside of the bar with keeper Paddy Kenny well beaten.

Eight minutes later, Neil Warnock’s men went ahead when Smith, who had fired wide in the early stages, etched his name into QPR folklore by scoring the club’s first goal back in the top flight.

After Phil Jagielka sloppily gave the ball away, Buzsaky capitalised by threading the perfect pass through for Smith, and the forward took a touch before curling into the bottom corner of the net.

The goal shocked Everton into life and Tim Cahill sent a diving header just wide before Kenny kept out Jermaine Beckford’s header from Phil Neville’s cross.

Everton, who had impressive 17-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley making his debut, did not improve after the break and boss David Moyes sent on Mikel Arteta and then Marouane Fellaini in an attempt to galvanise his team.

Barkley shot wide and Cahill had another header saved by Kenny, but with Shaun Derry superbly shielding their back four, Rangers never looked like letting this historic win slip from their grasp.