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18:10 21st October 2012


JUNIOR Hoilett’s second-minute strike was not enough for QPR, who were forced to accept a share of the spoils with ten-man Everton.

The former Blackburn Rovers man struck early in the first half to hand the home side an ideal start, finding the net after seeing his shot take a wicked deflection off the foot of Leighton Baines.

The Toffees fought back, however, with Julio Cesar putting though his own net after a Sylvain Distin header crashed back off the foot of the post.

Rangers were boosted by an Everton red card in the second half when Steven Pienaar was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a challenge on Jose Bosingwa. 

That saw the home side surge forward in search of a second goal but – largely thanks to the heroics of visiting ‘keeper Tim Howard – it just proved beyond them.

Hoops boss Mark Hughes made three changes to his side following a 3-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion a fortnight ago.

Armand Traore and Hoilett – both introduced after half-time at The Hawthorns – this time started, as did Samba Diakite, who returned from a one-match suspension.

Rangers – who were at near-full strength for the first time this season – made the perfect start.

Restored to the starting line-up, it was Hoilett who justified Hughes’ decision to do so when he opened the scoring after just two minutes.

The Canadian broke from an Everton corner, doing well to fend off a challenge from Toffees skipper Phil Neville before bursting into the visitors’ half and unleashing a low 30-yard drive that bounced up off the foot of Baines and in.

The goal gave the home side momentum and Rangers now had an added zip to their play, with Hoilett appearing in the mood after his early strike, while Adel Taarabt typically produced one outrageous piece of individual skill after another.

QPR almost doubled their lead in the eighth minute when Taarabt and Traore combined before the latter slid a low centre across the face of goal that agonisingly evaded the waiting Bobby Zamora.

Everton fashioned their first attempt on the 10-minute mark, after Nikica Jelavic’s free-kick forced a smart stop from Cesar.

The Toffees enjoyed the better of the possession as the half wore on although it was Rangers who had the next chance of note on 21 minutes, with Ryan Nelsen heading over from an Esteban Granero free-kick.

But the visitors were eventually rewarded for their improved spell in the 33rd minute – albeit with a helping hand from Cesar.

Pienaar’s free-kick was met by the head of Distin and when the Frenchman’s effort struck the foot of the post, the ball cannoned off the back of Cesar before nestling into the net.

Buoyed by their leveller, Everton had strong claims for a penalty waived away soon after following Stephane Mbia’s challenge on Jelavic, while from the resultant corner, Phil Jagielka’s header struck the face of the crossbar.

The R’s wasted a good opportunity four minutes before the interval.

Diakite’s low cross into Zamora saw the former Fulham front-man hold the ball up before touching a pass back in to Hoilett who, under pressure from his marker, could only fire over the target.

David Moyes’ Everton made a bright start to the second period but it was QPR who almost restored their lead six minutes after the half-time break.

Diakite’s marauding run saw the Mali midfielder ride four challenges before crossing for Ji-Sung Park, whose side-footed effort forced a brave block from Jagielka.

Rangers’ chances were strengthened just past the hour mark after the visitors were reduced to 10 men.

South African ace Pienaar went in late on Bosingwa, leaving referee Mr Moss with little option but to brandish a second yellow card.

The Hoops were now driving forward in search of a winner. Zamora shot straight at Howard in the 69th minute following Granero’s excellent clip over the top of the Everton defence.

At the other end, Kevin Mirallas’ rasping effort was deflected just over the bar by Mbia, before Jagielka’s header from a Baines corner forced a stunning point-blank save from Cesar.

Hughes introduced fresh legs with around 20 minutes left on the clock, with Djibril Cisse and Nedum Onuoha replacing Zamora and Traore respectively.

The R’s soon went close. Quick feet from Hoilett enabled the tricky winger to dance his way past Leon Osman before he saw a low drive brilliantly parried by Howard. Granero then smashed over the loose ball.

Moments later, the now-busy Howard had to race off his line to courageously thwart the roaming Cisse. 

Rangers were now firmly knocking on the door and after Hoilett had claims for a penalty waived away when clashing with Seamus Coleman, the attacker produced a fine curling effort from 25 yards that forced an equally impressive stop from Howard.

The hosts continued to push forward in search of an all-important second goal but, despite their best attempts, they couldn’t quite muster one.
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