Hoops hang on to upset Villa
QPR pulled off a textbook smash-and grab raid to beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the Carling Cup third round.
Last Updated: 24/09/08 10:24pm
QPR pulled off a textbook smash-and grab raid to beat Aston Villa 1-0 and dump the Premier League side out of the Carling Cup.
A reshuffled Villa line-up dominated possession throughout and missed a host of chances only to see Damion Stewart break the deadlock for Rangers with a 58th-minute header.
And despite a late onslaught from Martin O'Neill's men, the Hoops hung on to reach the fourth round for the first time in 13 years.
The ambitious Championship outfit have staked an early claim for promotion to the top-flight this season and showed they could mix it with the English elite by spoiling Gareth Barry's return to captaincy duties.
The England international was one of only five survivors from Villa's Premier League victory over West Brom and was asked to lead the side for the first time since his dream move to Liverpool fell through.
But despite a lively display from winger Ashley Young, Villa could not find the goal they needed to force extra-time.
Carlos Cuellar was handed a first home start alongside Zat Knight in a reshuffled Villa defence, while Isaiah Osbourne and debutant goalkeeper Brad Guzan were given chances to impress.
The applause when Barry's name was announced to the fans was warm, if a little less than delirious, but the decision suggests that, if any further proof were needed, player and manager are fully reconciled.
Villa had a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring in the 10th minute after fine work down the left from Barry and Nicky Shorey provided Stiliyan Petrov with possession just outside the box.
The Bulgaria international opted not to shoot, instead rolling the ball delicately into Marlon Harewood's path only for the striker to curl his effort over the crossbar from six yards out.
Emmanuel Ledesma, scorer of a hat-trick in the previous round, showed some neat footwork inside the Villa box to give the hosts a scare but he ran the ball a fraction too far and lost sight of goal.
Young then showed the skill and fleet of foot that mark him out as an England star in the making when he set in motion another Villa attack with a first-time flick with the outside of the boot.
That set Barry scampering down the flank but when he found Harewood in the middle, he could not steer his shot through a clutch of hooped shirts.
Harewood then snatched at a tough chance from Young's cut-back and powered it into the stand, while Cuellar, who looked short on composure, was booked 10 minutes before the break for dissent.
Young looked as though he would send Villa into the break ahead but his sweetly-hit effort curled just wide of the far post.
Villa cranked up the pressure after the restart, Young earning a corner with a low near-post cross from the right which Harewood might have done better from.
The visitors then took a surprise lead following a disputed corner, with Daniel Parejo - on loan from Real Madrid - floating the ball back into the penalty area where Stewart rose to send a bullet header beyond Guzan.
Panic appeared to be spreading in the home ranks, with a series of mis-hit passes and poor touches serving to spur on their opponents.
With a little over 23 minutes remaining, O'Neill sent on Gabriel Agbonlahor and Wayne Routledge.
O'Neill had probably been hoping to give Agbonlahor a night off having endured a heavy workload so far this season, but summoning him from the bench was an obvious show of intent.
After 75 minutes, Carew's flick put Barry through on goal, only for the Villa skipper to chip the advancing Cerny and wide of the target.
Routledge then screwed a good chance wide with three minutes to play, ending Villa's hopes of a sixth League Cup.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Queens Park Rangers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|10||Shots off Target||4|