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15:11 14th May 2012


There have been a number of simply unforgettable moments for QPR fans in recent seasons.

This afternoon, however, surely tops the lot.

For today was the day that Rangers secured their top-flight safety for another season at least - that despite a dramatic 3-2 defeat at newly-crowned Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City.

Crucially for Rangers, survival was ensured thanks to a result elsewhere.

Bolton Wanderers' failure to win at Stoke City condemned the Trotters to the Championship - and Rangers live to fight another day.

Here at the Etihad Stadium, it was the definition of a topsy-turvy afternoon.

The R's went behind in the 39th minute when Pablo Zabaleta's effort was spilled into the net via the post by Paddy Kenny.

Mark Hughes's team levelled just three minutes after the half-time break. Djibril Cisse capitalised on a Joleon Lescott mistake before putting his side on terms.

Rangers' task, however, was made all the harder in the 55th minute when Captain Joey Barton was sent off in an off-the-ball altercation.

Undeterred, the R's took the lead on 66 minutes, after Jamie Mackie rose to meet Armand Traore's telling cross.

City left it until late to win it.

Substitute Edin Dzeko put the hosts on terms in second-half stoppage time, before Sergio Aguero struck the winning goal that also secured the top-flight title for the hosts just seconds from the end.

Regardless of the result, the 3,000 or so Rangers fans in the visitors' end didn't care a jot come the full-time whistle.

Indeed, most importantly safety was secure - cue scenes to saviour both here and, no doubt, back home in the streets of Shepherd's Bush, too.

Hughes made two changes to his side for the trip to former team City, with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Cisse returning to the starting XI at the expense of Adel Taarabt and Akos Buzsaky respectively.

With that, the R's switched to a 4-4-2 formation as opposed to 4-5-1, with Kenny in goal.

Nedum Onuoha, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill and Taye Taiwo lined up in defence.

Barton and Shaun Derry started from the centre of midfield, while Mackie and Wright-Phillips manned the flanks.

Cisse partnered Bobby Zamora in attack for Rangers.

The first chance of the contest arrived in the fifth minute.

Good work from Aguero saw the City man win an unlikely chase for the ball on the left-hand by-line.

The Argentine striker then saw his subsequent centre swiped at by Carlos Tevez, before Yaya Toure powered an effort past the upright.

The opening exchanges saw City unsurprisingly dominate territorially.

But Rangers kept their shape well and limited the hosts to efforts from distance - that point exemplified on 11 minutes, after Samir Nasri dragged a shot wide.

Five minutes later, City edged closer. David Silva shifted one way and then the other in the box, before his fierce drive was held by Kenny.

The R's fashioned their first attempt after 24 minutes. Cisse was felled on the edge of the penalty area, before the former Liverpool ace dusted himself down to lash a low shot straight at Joe Hart.

City were still undoubtedly on top, although the natives began to grow restless as Rangers - with goalmouth scrambles now aplenty - continued to defend admirably.

The visitors were doing a good job of frustrating Roberto Mancini's side, who saw Silva drag another effort wide on 33 minutes.

However, City - largely thanks to a helping hand from the R's - finally broke the deadlock six minutes before the half-time break.

Zabaleta started and finished the move, passing to Silva who, in turn, found Toure.

The Ivory Coast international then slipped a ball back into the path of Zabeleta, whose resultant shot was spilled on to the post and in by Kenny.

Soon after, Aguero had a chance to double City's advantage going into the interval. Kenny, however, was on hand to pull off a smart stop.

Moments after the break Aguero was involved once again, meeting Gael Clichy's cross from the left before his shot forced a fine point-blank save from Kenny.

A minute later, Nasri curled a 25-yard free-kick over the bar.

Rangers levelled in the 48th minute.

Lescott made a hash of Wright-Phillips' long ball forward, before Cisse found himself through on goal.

The French forward kept incredible cool from thereon in, blasting an unstoppable shot past Hart from just inside the area.

Despite equalising, the Hoops' hopes were dealt a bitter blow in the 55th minute after being reduced to ten men.

Barton was the man shown his marching orders, sent straight off following an off-the-ball incident with Tevez.

What would Rangers do from here?

Defend for their lives, quite simply, was the answer.

On 60 minutes, Kenny produced a superb save from Aguero.

Remarkably, Rangers stunned the home crowd when they look the lead six minutes later.

A barnstorming run from substitute Traore saw the former Arsenal full-back skin Vincent Kompany, before he crossed superbly for Mackie.

And the R's attacker made no mistake from close range, planting an expert header into the back of the net.

City responded, laying siege to the QPR goal.

Nasri, Tevez and Dzeko all went close for the hosts, but Rangers were hanging on - just. Kenny, in particular, had more than atoned for his earlier error.

But when five minutes of added time went up on the board, City soon levelled.

In the second minute of time added on, Dzeko headed home from a Silva corner.

And in the dying seconds, Aguero latched on to Mario Balotelli's pass before slamming home.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany, Lescott, Barry (Dzeko 69), Y Toure (De Jong 44), Silva, Nasri, Aguero, Tevez (Balotelli 75).

Subs: Pantilimon, Richards, Kolarov, Milner.

Goals: Zabaleta (39), Dzeko (90), Aguero (90)

Bookings: Aguero (90)

QPR: Kenny, Hill, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Taiwo, Derry, Barton, Mackie, Wright-Phillips, Zamora (Bothroyd 76), Cisse (Traore 59).

Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Taarabt, Campbell, Buzsaky.

Goals: Cisse (48), Mackie (66)

Bookings: Bothroyd (78)

Red Cards: Barton (55)

Referee: Mr M Dean

Attendance: 47,435

    Data provided by Press Association
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