Suarez header enough to see off QPR

Liverpool 1 QPR 0

A one-sided match at Anfield was settled by Luis Suarez’s goal 68 seconds into the second half.

The unmarked Suarez headed Charlie Adam’s left-wing cross beyond Radek Cerny, who spared QPR a thrashing by producing several excellent saves.

Rangers manager Neil Warnock had vowed to relish his club’s first visit to Anfield since 1995 and promised they would take the game to the Reds.

But the home side were on top from the start, with Suarez heading Stewart Downing’s cross straight at Cerny and then failing to hit the target after being put through by Maxi Rodriguez.

Smith was given a surprise recall.

Warnock’s plans were undone by the loss of in-form forward Heidar Helguson, so Tommy Smith was brought in on the left to support lone striker Jay Bothroyd.

While Bothroyd was a spectator for much of the match, stand-in keeper Cerny was kept busy – and twice came to Rangers’ rescue before half-time.

First, Maxi ran in behind Anton Ferdinand to collect Dirk Kuyt’s clever pass but Cerny dived to his left to superbly deny the Argentine.

Then Downing left Armand Traore trailing and picked out Suarez, who blazed high and wide after his first effort had been well saved.

Rangers were fortunate to be level at the break but within four minutes of the restart they were a goal down and had lost Ferdinand to injury.

Suarez’s goal was a sweet moment for the Uruguay striker, who was hit with an FA charge of improper conduct after an alleged obscene gesture towards Fulham fans on Monday night.

R’s defender Bradley Orr, a lifelong Liverpool fanatic who was at that game at Craven Cottage, found himself coming on to replace Ferdinand, who limped off after crumpling to the ground in pain following a challenge from Adam.

Ferdinand appeared to injure his hamstring or knee, and a spell on the sidelines for the centre-back could further test Rangers’ resources ahead of the January transfer window.

Sloppy defending even with their first-choice pairing at the back has angered Warnock in recent weeks and was evident again when Suarez scored while totally unchallenged.

The visitors rarely looked like staging a comeback, and two more saves from Cerny – both to thwart Maxi after he had been teed up by Suarez – kept Liverpool at bay before their win was almost capped by an own goal from Shaun Wright-Phillips, whose attempted clearance from Craig Bellamy’s cross struck the bar.