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17:16 25th February 2012
By  @OfficialQPR


Pavel Pogrebnyak's first-half strike was the difference, as ten-man QPR went down to a narrow West London derby defeat at Loftus Road.

The Russian striker was on target after just seven minutes to give Martin Jol's side the lead, rounding Paddy Kenny to tap home after Moussa Dembele's clever back-heel.

The R's hopes of restoring parity were dealt a major blow on 33 minutes, after Samba Diakite's late challenge on Bryan Ruiz saw the Mali international sent off for a second bookable offence on his Hoops debut.

Fulham were the better side in the first period but the pattern of play did reverse after the half-time interval - that despite Rangers being a man light.

Indeed, Jamie Mackie and Shaun-Wright Phillips both went agonisingly close in the second half.

However, despite their best attempts, a levelling goal proved just beyond Mark Hughes's side.

The Welshman made three changes to his R's side for the visit of former employers Fulham, following Rangers' 3-2 defeat at Blackburn a fortnight ago.

Mackie's two-goal cameo from the bench at Ewood Park saw the Scot drafted in up front, while Diakite came in at the expense of Akos Buzsaky.

Clint Hill, meanwhile, replaced Fitz Hall at the centre of defence.

Kenny was in goal for Rangers, behind a back four of Nedum Onuoha, Anton Ferdinand, Hill and Taye Taiwo.

Wright-Phillips began from the right-hand side of midfield, with skipper Joey Barton and Diakite in the centre, and Adel Taarabt out wide on the left.

Mackie was joined Bobby Zamora - who moved to Rangers from Fulham just under a month ago - in attack.

Loftus Road really was a cauldron of noise on derby day.

But it wasn't just the vivacious atmosphere that whet the appetite in the opening stages. Indeed, this contest began at a breathless pace.

Play was extremely open early on, but it was the R's who would first test their opposing keeper.

Taarabt combined with Zamora on two minutes before shooting straight at Mark Schwarzer. Taiwo then forced the custodian into an equally comfortable stop.

A very open start was exemplified soon after when Fulham broke and Andy Johnson nodded home off the crossbar - only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

The Cottagers weren't to be denied at the second time of asking, however, taking the lead after only seven minutes.

Dembele's outrageous back-heel put Pogrebnyak clean through on goal, who waited for Kenny to commit before rounding the keeping and sliding the ball into an empty net.

Moments later, Fulham went within a whisker of doubling their lead. Ruiz freed Clint Demspey, whose low drive went just inches wide of the left-hand post.

Rangers almost replied on 12 minutes after Mackie fired an effort just wide, following Barton's slide-rule pass.

But Fulham continued to press for a second goal. Pogrebnyak nearly added another, beating the offside trap once again before firing an effort straight at Kenny, albeit from an acute angle.

Fulham were displaying a show of fine football in the first period, but QPR continued to plug away in search of an equaliser.

Wright-Phillips' blast from distance caused all sorts of confusion after his effort was spilled by Schwarzer, but the offside flag soon came to the visitors' rescue.

Diakite then found Taarabt with a lovely pass on 28 minutes, before the Moroccan magician drilled a 20-yard effort just wide of the left-hand post.

At the other end, Fulham almost extended their lead - with a helping hand from the hosts - when Ruiz's in-swinging free-kick bounced off Dempsey onto Diakite, before the ball went just of the right-hand post.

From the resultant corner, another dangerous Ruiz set-piece fell to Danny Murphy, whose thunderbolt shot from 12 yards was blocked away by Kenny.

Rangers' hopes of getting back into the match were dealt a bitter blow 13 minutes before the break, after the home side were reduced to ten men.

Diakite - already on a booking - was the man shown his marching orders, handed a second yellow card - and a subsequent red - after a late challenge on Ruiz.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the R's went close just before half-time, after Barton struck Onuoha's cross over the bar from 18-yards out.

The tempo at the start of the second half proved to be much slower than that of the first.

Rangers were first to go close, with Taarabt driving straight at Schwarzer before shooting over with efforts in quick succession.

Hill then headed Barton's corner over the bar ten minutes after the break - albeit on the stretch - before Barton saw an effort deflected wide of the right-hand post.

The R's - now the better side - fashioned their best chance of the half to date on 69 minutes.

Taarabt combined to superb effect with Onuoha before freeing Mackie, whose low drive went just inches wide of the left-hand post.

But QPR's greatest opportunity of the closing period arrived seven minutes from time.

Taarabt's outstanding through ball found Wright-Phillips, who - at an acute angle and with Mackie unmarked in the centre - opted to shoot rather than play a square pass, before seeing his effort force a superb block from Schwarzer.

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