Cardiff City v QPR
RANGERS claimed a 2-0 success at the Cardiff City Stadium, to maintain our 100 percent start to the season – and go top of the Sky Bet Championship.
An unspectacular affair in the main, two late goals won it for the visitors, adding to victories over Leeds United and Swindon Town (EFL Cup) in the past seven days.
Steven Caulker gave QPR the lead, heading home in the 76th minute on his return to his old stomping ground.
And the points were safe nine minutes later, as Tjaronn Chery struck from the penalty spot in textbook fashion.
R’s boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who played for Cardiff the last time they beat QPR at home, in January 2008, made one change to the team which led Rangers to a 3-0 opening-weekend win over Leeds at Loftus Road last Sunday.
Jordan Cousins replaced Olamide Shodipo, who dropped to the bench.
Of course, there were several changes for the midweek League Cup victory over Swindon, where Rangers needed penalties to overcome their League One visitors.
Despite two good results to start the campaign, this looked a tough test for the R’s – on paper at least – given the fact that the Bluebirds had only lost one of their previous 19 home games in the Championship.
QPR, however, could take heart from five clean sheets in their previous seven league visits to Cardiff.
There were very few chances early on.
Rangers fashioned the first attempt, through former City man Caulker, who headed just over following a Ben Gladwin corner in the fifth minute.
The home side probably shaded the possession count in the opening 20 minutes, although R’s goalkeeper Alex Smithies was relatively untroubled during that period.
QPR were forced into a change in the 25th minute.
Gladwin’s afternoon came to an early end after he picked up an ankle injury. So recent signing Yeni Ngbakoto was brought on in his place.
Cardiff’s Frederic Gounongbe should have done better with an opportunity just short of the half-hour mark.
The City striker was picked out at the back post, following a ball in from the left. However, though unmarked, he could only fluff his lines.
That proved to be the last real chance of the first half, not that there were many. Would the second period provide more goalmouth drama?
Rangers certainly began with greater intensity – and Ngbakoto was unlucky not to do better when latching on to Cousins’ right-wing centre in the 49th minute. The Frenchman couldn’t quite get enough purchase on his attempt from 10 yards.
However, the fixture returned to its lukewarm self as the hour mark came and went. Both sides weren’t exactly exemplary in possession. You felt the game could hinge on one moment.
QPR almost struck in the 67th minute. Ngbakoto won a free-kick on the left before sending over a cross. Caulker headed wide from the penalty spot.
Two minutes later, another Caulker chance. This time, the ball bounced around the box before the centre-half crashed an effort into the side-netting.
Suddenly, Rangers had sparked into life – and they led come the 76th minute.
Caulker, presented with a third successive second-half chance, didn’t disappoint this time around, nodding beyond David Marshall following Jake Bidwell’s lovely, inswinging free-kick from the right.
And one-nil became two five minutes from time, as QPR wrapped up the points.
Seb Polter was hacked down after tussling for possession in the box – and Chery stepped up to fire home in devastation fashion, shooting into the top right-hand corner.
‘We’re the Rangers, the mighty Rangers, we’re gonna win away’ sang the jubilant R’s fans in the away end.
And indeed Hasselbaink’s men did. It wasn’t always a thriller, but it was a disciplined - and ultimately profitable - display from the R’s in South Wales.