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21:40 27th November 2012


HARRY Redknapp picked up a point in his first fixture as Hoops boss.

QPR were good value for their point, with the natives often restless as the visiting team enjoyed much of the possession.

Rangers threatened throughout the 90 minutes but just lacked the cutting edge to find a winner.

Jamie Mackie probably had the west Londoners’ best chance to do so just before half-time, shooting straight at Simon Mignolet when free in the box.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of positives for Redknapp to take away after his first game in charge.

The former Tottenham Hotspur manager made three changes to the R’s side beaten at Manchester United on Saturday, with Jose Bosingwa, Samba Diakite and Esteban Granero all handed starts.

Shaun Derry, Kieron Dyer and Ale Faurlin made way.

Rangers lined up in a 4-1-4-1 for the long trip north. Julio Cesar was in goal, protected by a back four of Bosingwa, stand-in skipper Ryan Nelsen, Clint Hill and Armand Traore.

Stephane Mbia sat just in front of the visitors’ defence, behind a midfield quartet of Mackie, Diakite, Granero and Adel Taarabt.

Djibril Cisse led the line for QPR in attack – and it was the Frenchman who spurned a fine opportunity to put Rangers into an early lead after only four minutes.

Rangers zipped the ball around with real purpose in the opening stages and when a move involving Taarabt saw the attacker clip a ball over the top of the Mackems defence, Cisse could only direct a weak header straight at Mignolet.

Sunderland enjoyed a chance of their own just a minute later. Nelsen was penalised for a foul on 30 yards and when Craig Gardner stepped up to take the resultant free-kick, the former Birmingham City man fizzed an effort marginally wide of post.

The contest made for quite an open spectacle early on but it was Rangers who enjoyed the better chances.

The home side – like QPR – have struggled for form so far this term and there was certainly an air of apprehension in the stands.

Cisse saw an effort tipped smartly around the post by Mignolet before the striker powered a shot only inches wide of the target on 19 minutes.

But the chance of the half for Rangers arrived seven minutes before the break.

Excellent perseverance from Taarabt saw the Moroccan shake off two challenges before sliding Mackie through on goal, who couldn’t find a way past the sprawling low dive of Mignolet.

Taarabt had two bites of the cherry from the loose ball but saw both attempts blocked by the home rear-guard.

At the other end, Sunderland also enjoyed wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead on the stroke of half-time, with Cesar saving superbly well at the feet of Steven Fletcher.

The R’s were forced into a change at the interval, with Rob Green brought on in place of the injured Cesar, who appeared to pick up a groin strain in the opening half.

But the goalkeeping switch didn’t appear to knock QPR’s confidence and it wasn’t long before Traore went on a marauding run and crossed for Granero to head straight at Mignolet from 10 yards.

Redknapp’s men were enjoying plenty of time in possession – much to the dissatisfaction of the Stadium of Light faithful.

An Mbia effort saw Rangers go close again just short of the hour mark, with the Cameroon international playing a neat one-two with Diakite before blasting wide from distance.

Substitute ‘keeper Green produced a stunning stop in the 64th minute, diving low to thwart Fletcher who got his head to an Adam Johnson corner.

The visitors made a second change a minute later, with Ji-Sung Park brought on for Diakite, who was already on a booking.

And QPR’s third and final substitution was made 12 minutes from time, with the tireless Taarabt replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Both sides, in fact, made changes after half-time but the fresh impetus yielded few match-winning opportunities.

Rangers had the best chance on the counter attack in the dying minutes but Wright-Phillips couldn’t find a way past Mignolet.
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