QPR 0-1 Chelsea: Cesc Fabregas strike foils valiant Rangers
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 12/04/15 8:53pm
Cesc Fabregas' 88th-minute strike dealt a significant blow to Queens Park Rangers' survival hopes as Chelsea moved to within 11 points of the title with a 1-0 win at Loftus Road.
With the game destined for a goalless draw after a spirited display from Rangers against the below-par Premier League leaders, Fabregas converted Eden Hazard's cross to shatter the home side and restore the Blues' seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Willian struck the woodwork in the opening exchanges, while Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips drew Chelsea 'keeper Thibaut Courtois into fine saves in each half, before Fabregas decided the outcome of the game.
Chelsea now require just three wins and two draws their remaining games to win a fourth Premier League crown, while Rangers remain in the bottom three, two points from safety.
Jose Mourinho handed Didier Drogba his first start since February’s win at Aston Villa after Loic Remy - who was expected to deputise for the injured Diego Costa - was ruled out of a reunion with his former club through injury.
In a first half of few chances, Chelsea inadvertently went closest to opening the scoring eight minutes in when Willian’s cross-shot almost caught Rob Green out but cannoned against the post.
With Drogba leading the line, the Blues’ pattern of play in the first half saw a number of long balls played up to the Ivorian, but Rangers centre-backs Nedum Onuoha and Steven Caulker dealt with the aerial assault.
Similarly, Rangers tried to find Bobby Zamora and Austin in advanced positions and, while this proved to be a fruitless venture at times, Rangers still posed a threat.
Ramires squandered a decent chance for the visitors as he steered Drogba’s cross over wide of the target on the half-hour mark, before Austin's rasping drive drew Courtois into a fine save on the verge of half-time.
Rangers started the second half the better of the two sides but failed to create a clear sight of the Chelsea goal until after an hour.
Phillips, who continued his recent fine form, controlled and turned in the Chelsea area and forced Courtois into a point-blank save.
Mourinho brought on Oscar as he looked to shift the game in his side's favour, and the change did have an impact as the visitors took a real grip.
Austin could not get decent purchase on a late scramble in the Chelsea area and, with both sides seemingly resigned to a goalless draw, Chelsea proved their worth with the winner.
Green's sliced clearance fell kindly to Hazard - making his 100th Premier League appearance - who danced in off the left flank and laid the ball into the path of the Spaniard at the edge of the area who scored Chelsea's 100th goal in all competitions this season.
The despair was clear for the QPR players who lay strewn across the ground, while John Terry led vigorous Chelsea celebrations after the full-time whistle, having taken a step closer to the title.
QPR: Green (7), Isla (7), Onuoha (7), Caulker (7), Hill (8), Phillips (8), Barton (9), Sandro (8), Henry (7), Austin (8), Zamora (7).
Subs: Kranjcar (5), Dunne (5), Hoilett (5).
Chelsea: Courtois (8), Ivanovic (7), Cahill (7), Terry (7), Azpilicueta (7), Ramires (6), Matic (7), Willian (7), Fabregas (9), Hazard (7), Drogba (7).
Used subs: Zouma (5), Oscar (7), Cuadrado (5).
Man of the Match: Joey Barton.