Nelsen's QPR finally get first win

ALAN BALDWIN
Last updated 11:58 16/12/2012

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All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen's Queens Park Rangers gave chairman Tony Fernandes the early Christmas present he yearned for today by ending a record 16-match run without a win and moving off the bottom of the Premier League.

The Malaysian entrepreneur, whose AirAsia airline had confirmed a $9.4 billion order for 100 more Airbus jets on Thursday, said on his Twitter feed in the week that he had been doing some early Christmas shopping "but all I want is three points".

Today, despite a nervous last few minutes after Fulham had pulled a goal back in the West London derby, his wish came true with a deserved 2-1 win in front of a capacity 18,233 crowd at Loftus Road.

"Best best feeling in the world," Fernandes declared, again resorting to the social media network before heading down to the local pub to meet up with fans.

The irony was that both the second-half goals came from Moroccan Adel Taarabt, a player who has been at QPR a lot longer than Fernandes or any of the expensive signings who have so signally failed to gel.

Taarabt was instrumental in getting QPR out of the Championship (second division) and back into the Premier League in 2011 under manager Neil Warnock, who was sacked in January only a few months after Fernandes took over.

Today, he was the man who lifted QPR off the floor - even if the team are still in deep relegation trouble and fighting against the odds - with a long-range shot in the 52nd and a lovely second curled into the net in the 68th after a run from midfield.

The 23-year-old Tottenham Hotspur reject can now expect special treatment from former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, the man who once sent Taarabt out on loan and who took over from sacked Mark Hughes last month with the club's owners praying for a miracle.

Only last year it was Redknapp, as the then-Tottenham manager preparing to face QPR, who described the temperamental Taarabt as a player who was "a bit of a fruitcake but who's got amazing ability."

He was singing his praises unreservedly on Saturday.

"Amazing. I changed it today, I just felt that I might leave us a little bit short elsewhere, we might be a little bit open, but I really wanted to get him in that position where he played today," said Redknapp.

"He popped up in between their midfield and their back four and every time he picked the ball up he did the most amazing things.

"It was one of the all-time great performances I felt, everything he did today was top class and the goals were the icing on the cake," Redknapp told Sky Sports television.

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Since Redknapp arrived, with QPR anchored to the bottom on just four points from 12 matches and an unwanted tag as the only side in England's four professional divisions without a win, the club with the smallest ground in the Premier League has seen signs of hope.

Apart from a defeat by Manchester United two days after he was appointed in a match Redknapp watched from the stands, QPR have racked up three draws and now a win.

Had they not triumphed on Saturday, Rangers would have become the first team since Bolton Wanderers in 1902-03 to fail to win any of their opening 17 matches in the top flight.

"It was great, a fantastic performance today," said Redknapp. "We've played well in all the games, we've had three draws and now we've got our first win. But it was well-deserved today, we were the better team and I thought we dominated.

"The last few minutes were hectic for sure, they were bound to be, they threw everybody forward. But it would have been a gross injustice if we hadn't won the game today."

- Reuters

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