ADEL TAARABT fired Queens Park Rangers to their first win of the Barclays Premier League season today.
The Moroccan international was in sensational form and scored a second half brace against Fulham to lift Rangers off the bottom of the table with a 2-1 win.
The R’s first victory in 17 attempts this season saw them move above Reading.
Boss Harry Redknapp made three changes to the starting line-up from the side that faced Wigan Athletic seven days earlier.
Nedum Onuoha, Ale Faurlin and Djibril Cisse returned whilst keeper Robert Green kept his place in goal despite Julio Cesar shaking off a groin injury.
An early chance for Rangers fell to Cisse in just the second minute after Adel Taarabt released the R’s forward. He got his shot away inside the box; going down under pressure from Brede Hangeland, but referee Martin Atkinson waved away the home sides’ penalty appeal.
However, an even better chance fell to Jamie Mackie just four minutes later. Fulham’s John Arne Riise’s weak back pass flicked the ball into the path of Mackie, who one-on-one with keeper Schwazer somehow managed to side foot wide from six-yards with the target gapping.
Undeterred Taarabt then spun his marker in midfield before releasing Shaun Wright-Phillips but his pass was a touch too heavy for the winger - Schwarzer collecting comfortably.
Mbia then won a free-kick for the home side in a dangerous position on the edge of the Fulham penalty area after Chris Baird fouled the Cameroonian following Taarabt’s pass. Cisse’s free-kick from 19-yards hit the Fulham wall with Taarabt and again Cisse, having second a third bites at the cherry but those shots were both blocked also.
Green’s blushes in the QPR goal were spared in the 23rd minute when he hesitated following a back pass from Onuoha. The ex-West Ham stopper scuffed his clearance in the confusion, smashing the ball into striker Hugo Rodallega, but fortunately for the R’s he was unable to control the ball with Green’s net unprotected.
At the other end Cisse tested Schwarzer from distance after latching onto Mbia’s pass. The Australian spilled his 25-yard effort but was able to gather at the second attempt with Taarabt doing his best to follow up.
A sell-out crowd at Loftus Road was sparked into wild celebrations seven minutes into second half when Queens Park Rangers went 1-0 up with the first real opportunity after the break.
Ryan Nelsen collected the ball on the halfway line before releasing Taarabt inside the centre circle. The influential playmaker broke forward before his shot from outside the D deflect off of Fulham’s Hangeland beating the stranded Schwarzer.
It was so nearly 2-0 on the hour mark when Cisse could only agonisingly watch on as his right footed shot had custodian Schwazer beaten from 12-yards after Nelsen had done well to win the ball back for the home side.
Fulham registered their first shot on target in the 68th minute when substitute Mladen Petric warmed Green’s hands with a free-kick from 25-yards.
That only seemed to urge Rangers on again and Taabrabt soon had his second goal of the afternoon in stunning fashion. He outmuscled Hangeland in the middle of the pitch before baring down on the visitors penalty area. Surrounded by three Fulham defenders the Moroccan magician nonchalantly flicked a shot with the outside of his right foot past Schwarzer from 18-yards.
R’s were given a late scare though as against the run of play Fulham pulled a goal back to make it 2-1 through Petric. He saw his shot from outside the box deflect off a lunge from Ale Faurlin to beat Green and set-up a tense final two minutes.
That saw striker Cisse force a superb one handed save from Mark Schwarzer in the 90th minute before he then fired over from distance on the break away with the R's defence remaining strong to ensure Rangers held on for all three points.