Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Adel Taarabt's fortune helps QPR to down Pompey's paupers

Adel Taarabt 
Adel Taarabt was quiet in the first half but was influential in the second period, scoring the opening goal. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Queens Park Rangers still head this toughest of divisions courtesy of Adel Taarabt, the former Spurs midfielder who is surely heading back to the Premier League.
Fifty-nine minutes had passed when Taarabt ran at Portsmouth's defence before striking a 20-yard shot that slipped though Jamie Ashdown's fingers for the goal that swung the game. "I thought in first half he did all right and then he came in to it even more," said the Rangers manager Neil Warnock of the 21-year-old Moroccan
. "At half-time we slightly changed it [switching Taarabt's wing] and he got more of the ball."
Yet before Warnock's intervention the visitors had seemed likely to depart with a draw, at least.
Richer than Chelsea if Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal, the world's eighth wealthiest man, ever decide on serious investment, QPR had welcomed the paupers from Portsmouth to a contest for which the south coast club could name only six replacements, and two of those were youngsters.
Steve Cotterill's team began the evening four points clear of the relegation zone having recorded no victory since early December, and with the financially stricken club wondering how to absorb the £37,000 a-week wages of Tal Ben Haim, who has returned from loan at West Ham United. He did not feature as he is in dispute with the Hammers either.
"He's not training – he could [still leave the club] – I don't know," Cottterill said afterwards. "The only small bit I do know is that I think he's in disagreement with West Ham about whether his contract was valid from January the first."
During the opening half Pompey fared better in the chances' department. Yet after Liam Lawrence won a free-kick early on and bent the delivery straight into the goalkeeper's hands and later Dave Kitson beat Paddy Kenny only to loop the ball over, the action faded until 10 minutes before the interval.
Kitson was then pulled back by Matthew Connolly and Greg Halford unloaded a fierce 30-yard shot that warmed Kenny's fingers.
QPR now seemed to remember their status as pre-match favourites and won a corner from which Alejando Faurlin forced Ashdown to save his curling shot.
The big puzzle for Warnock as the teams exited for half-time was how to ensure Taarabt could affect the game. Upon the restart came the switch to wide left and following his goal, came the corner that set up Clint Hill's clincher. With Norwich City, Swansea City and Nottingham Forest all winning it meant QPR retain their five-point lead at the top.

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