QPR gives Chelsea the blues in EPL

Updated 05 January 2013
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QPR gives Chelsea the blues in EPL

LONDON: Shaun Wright-Phillips’ second half winner at his former club Chelsea handed Queens Park Rangers a precious and surprise 1-0 win on Wednesday night to give the bottom side a glimmer of hope in their battle to avoid relegation.
Wright-Phillips smashed home a low strike after 78 minutes to deny Chelsea third spot and help the other west Londoners draw level with Reading at the bottom of the table on 13 points with only their second Premier League win.
“They worked their socks off and they got their rewards, we deserved it and it was a fantastic performance. We restricted them,” QPR boss Harry Redknapp told the BBC.
“They have set the standard tonight and to get out of this mess they have to do it every week.” Chelsea, with a game in hand on leaders Manchester United and third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, have 38 points from 20 matches and trail the table-toppers by 14 points and Spurs by one.
A Luis Suarez double for Liverpool helped the Uruguayan move one goal behind Premier League top scorer Robin van Persie in the scoring charts as Liverpool swept Sunderland aside 3-0 at home.
Everton climbed above Arsenal into fifth place on 36 points from 21 games with a 2-1 comeback win at Newcastle United, who sit two points above the relegation places.
Visitors QPR took advantage of a weaker Chelsea side, interim manager Rafael Benitez opting to rest Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, as they won their first away game of the season to delight their ecstatic supporters at the final whistle.
Chelsea dominated possession and nearly broke the deadlock midway through the second half when Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed for being offside as he fired in a low shot.
Branislav Ivanovic grazed the crossbar with a header after halftime as Chelsea pushed for an opener, but QPR were well organized and defended doggedly and took their chance when it came.
Adel Taarabt always looked lively and it was a well-controlled lay off from the Moroccan, which set up winger Wright-Phillips on the edge of the box to drive a fierce low effort beyond reserve goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Wright-Phillips spent three inconsistent years at Chelsea between 2005 and 2008 and his career has stuttered since, prompting him to lose his England squad place.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp’s gamble to play Taarabt up front instead of his usual position wide or in the hole paid off handsomely.
“I have never played in that position in my life. I was surprised when the manager told me I will be playing there,” Taarabt told the BBC.
Redknapp added: “We worked on it yesterday morning in training.” QPR narrowed the gap to 17th-placed Southampton to five points with 17 matches left while Newcastle, in 15th, are seven points away.
Chelsea, lucky not to have league debutant Marko Marin sent off for a rash early tackle, had been in excellent form coming into the game but the defeat again exposed their lack of options up front and a deal for Newcastle striker Demba Ba cannot come soon enough for fans.
“We can’t carry on with the same players every game. You have to trust your players, but we were a little bit tired,” Benitez said, adding he hopes Ba can be signed by the weekend.
Ba was left out by hosts Newcastle as they lost to Everton to deepen the malaise for a side that finished fifth last term.
Everton’s Victor Anichebe scored 90 seconds after coming on as a substitute when he turned in a low cross from Nikica Jelavic after 60 minutes to put the visitors 2-1 up after good build-up play from Marouane Fellaini.
Papiss Cisse gave the home team an early lead after two minutes when he looped a header over a stranded Tim Howard but left back Leighton Baines fired in a rocket of a free kick just before halftime to pull Everton level and set up the win.
Suarez and young talent Raheem Sterling’s second top-flight goal helped lift Liverpool to eighth on 31 points from 21 games.
The 18-year-old opened Liverpool’s account with a deft lob after 19 minutes and Suarez bagged another shortly after before adding his 15th league goal of the campaign seven minutes into the second half to complete the easy win.
Liverpool threatened more goals against a hapless Sunderland but had two chalked off late on, both for offside.


Mohamed Salah threatens Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold

Updated 26 min 55 sec ago
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Mohamed Salah threatens Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold

  • Messi and Ronaldo have won the award for the past ten years
  • Salah has emerged as a genuine rival after scoring 43 goals this season

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah could be the man to finally break the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly at the top of world football after the Liverpool forward burnished his soaring reputation with a mesmerising Champions League performance against Roma.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi have locked down the Ballon d’Or award for a decade, winning five gongs apiece — for the past seven years they have occupied the top two slots.
But Salah is now second favorite behind Ronaldo for this year’s award after scoring his 42nd and 43rd goals of the season in a thrilling 5-2 victory for Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal first leg.
After his first strike against his former club on Tuesday, the man dubbed by fans as the “Egyptian King” stood motionless, hands raised in apology, as bedlam broke out on a night for the ages at Anfield.
Salah’s curling effort arrowed into the top corner with such accuracy his manager Jurgen Klopp labelled it “a genius strike.”
Soon after came the forward’s signature finish, a cute dink over advancing Roma goalkeeper Alisson for his 43rd goal in 47 games for Liverpool.
When Salah, 25, made the move from the Italian capital back to the Premier League just 10 months ago for €42 million ($51 million), there were plenty who felt Roma had got the better deal. Salah after all was a talented player, but who often lacked an end product.
It also came just a few weeks before Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record €222 million revolutionized the transfer market.
The Brazilian’s desire to leave the Catalan giants was tied to his ambition to beat Messi and Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or by stepping out of Messi’s shadow.
Now, though, it is Salah who has emerged as the pretender to end the Messi-Ronaldo domination by not only scoring the quantity of goals that have become the pair’s trademark but doing it when it really matters, in the latter stages of the Champions League.
“If you think he is the best in the world, write it or say it,” urged Klopp, who has been credited with bringing out Salah’s previously untapped potential.
“To be the best in the world you need to do that over a longer period I think, and there are a few others that are not so bad.”
Heavily left-footed, small, speedy and with a low center of gravity, Salah’s characteristics are far more like those of Messi than the muscular goal-machine Ronaldo.
“In a certain light, at certain points, it is possible to glimpse in Salah a little of Messi’s afterglow,” wrote Rory Smith in the New York Times.
And he demonstrated another Messi-like quality in showing no mercy to Roma.
Chasing his first hat-trick in the Champions League, Salah would have been forgiven for going for goal as he bore down on Alisson once more after half-time.
But he showed why he is considered one of the game’s more unselfish superstars by instead creating another two goals for strike partners Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
When Salah left the field to a standing ovation 15 minutes from time, Liverpool led 5-0.
“Unstoppable (when Salah’s on the pitch),” said the back page of The Times.
Two late Roma away goals have at least given the Italians hope of recreating the incredible comeback they staged from a 4-1 first-leg deficit against Barca in the quarter-finals.
For once it is Salah’s turn to lead the way where Messi faltered on his return to the Eternal City next week.
Messi is almost certain to win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double and Ronaldo could lead Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League after another bucketload of goals this season.
But Salah is the coming man and after bagging the African and English players’ player of the year crowns, it is hard to back against him also conquering the world.