Fulham defeat 10-man QPR
Pavel Pogrebnyak scored the only goal of the game as Fulham held off the challenge of QPR in a 1-0 win at Loftus Road.
Last Updated: 25/02/12 11:39pm
Pavel Pogrebnyak scored the only goal of the game as Fulham held off the challenge of 10-man Queens Park Rangers in a 1-0 win at Loftus Road.
Russian Pogrebnyak had already handed the visitors a seventh-minute lead before Samba Diakite was dismissed for a second yellow card just 33 minutes into his QPR debut.
It was the third home league match out of four a Rangers player has been dismissed in the first period.
Fulham, though, failed to capitalise on the extra space in a vibrant, fast-paced opening period, and the hosts emerged from the break with a renewed spring in their step.
Shaun Wright-Phillips wasted their biggest chance of snatching a point, though, bending wide of the far post after beating the offside trap.
The hosts eventually ran out of steam, as Fulham held on to keep their first clean sheet in 10 games.
QPR have now only won once in 14 league games as their almost 29-year winless streak against Fulham continued to the delight of 3,115 visiting supporters.
Despite a bright start from the Rs, Fulham had the ball in the back of the net in the third minute.
The impressive Moussa Dembele, playing again in a central midfield role, put through John Arne Riise on the left, and his cross was nodded home off the underside of the bar by Johnson.
The effort was ruled out for offside but the visiting support did not have long to wait to celebrate a goal as Dembele once again proved the catalyst.
The Belgium international's exquisite back-heel played through Pogrebnyak, who showed superb composure to round Paddy Kenny and slot home.
The goal was the recent addition's second in as many games, although it was tempered somewhat by his booking for celebrating with the Fulham fans.
QPR looked shell-shocked as they saw Clint Dempsey fire wide, before Kenny stopped the American prodding home by grabbing hold of a Pogrebnyak cross.
The Rs were struggling to get a foothold in the game and their frustrations saw Diakite pick up a booking for a late challenge on Bryan Ruiz in the 20th minute.
QPR were only fleetingly impressing and somehow failed to capitalise on defensive confusion in the 26th minute.
Mark Schwarzer parried a 20-yard Shaun Wright-Phillips effort into the path of Zamora, whose goalbound attempt was clawed away by the Fulham goalkeeper before Adel Taarabt inexplicably fired wide.
Perhaps fortunately for the Morocco international, the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.
Taarabt, though, was looking QPR's most dangerous player and fired inches wide from 20 yards, before the Cottagers returned to the attack.
Nedum Onuoha was forced to put the ball out for a corner as Dempsey threatened, before Kenny palmed away a fierce Danny Murphy effort.
The home side's afternoon was made all the more difficult in the 33rd minute when Diakite became the latest Rangers player to earn a first-half red card.
QPR had been reduced to 10 men in two of their previous three home fixtures and the Malian followed suit, receiving his second booking of the afternoon for another foul on Ruiz.
Barton fired over as half-time approached but Fulham returned to the attack after the break, with only pressure from Onuoha preventing Ruiz getting a shot away inside the opening minute.
Taarabt rained in shots from all angles as he attempted to force an equaliser, before Rangers captain Barton saw an effort deflected behind and Dembele picked up a booking.
The second period was a much calmer affair as Martin Jol's side welcomed the hosts on, which almost backfired when Mackie latched on to a Taarabt ball to fire just wide.
Left-back Riise was booked for a foul in the build-up and then saw opposing number Taiwo limp off and replaced by Armand Traore.
Fulham made sweeping changes in a bid to sure things up heading into the final 10 minutes, but were fortunate not to concede in the 83rd minute when Wright-Phillips somehow curled wide when one-on-one with Schwarzer.
Substitute Chris Baird was booked for clipping Zamora's ankles as the clock wound down before fellow replacement Dickson Etuhu ran through the middle to shoot just wide in the 90th minute.
Fulham continued to press in stoppage-time and Dembele saw the last shot of the afternoon blocked by Onuoha after he had neatly turned the defender.