Barclays Premier League
QPR 3-0 Swansea City



QPR fans rejoice (foreground) as their returning captain Joey Barton takes the acclaim from his team-mates after scoring



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Loftus Road

Queens Park Rangers gave their Premier League survival hopes a massive boost with a convincing victory over a poor Swansea City.

Returning captain Joey Barton got the ball rolling for Rangers netting on the stroke of half-time with a fine drive into the corner, before Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky scored superb goals in the second period to earn the Hoops a priceless three points against Brendan Rodgers' men- who suffered a fourth consecutive league defeat for the first time this season.

Mark Hughes- who this week called that he had lost faith with referees after the controversial red card given to Shaun Derry in the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday- recalled Joey Barton and Bobby Zamora to the starting line-up, and were seeking their third straight home win after surprise victories over Liverpool and Arsenal, knowing that another win on Wednesday night would put them three points clear of the dropzone. Derry sat out the match serving a one-match ban after the FA upheld the club's appeal.
Swansea had lost their last three fixtures, but were chasing a fifth win in eight away matches to move them back into the top half of the table. Rodgers handed starts to key pair Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham after they were rested for Good Friday's 2-0 home defeat by Newcastle.

The hosts were desperate for a bright start following the ignominy of Shaun Derry’s early red card at Old Trafford, and came close to breaking the deadlock inside the first four minutes when Buzsaky fired a controlled volley just past the left-hand post from twenty yards out.

Swansea were controlling the ball with their usual precision passing, but were almost undone on the break just before the 10 minute mark as Jamie Mackie was denied at the near post by Vorm following good work from Barton and Samba Diakite, although the linesman’s flag was eventually raised for offside.

The recalled Barton looked lively in the early stages and did well to stop his team going behind after 15 minutes. Sigurdsson’s corner was deflected to the far post were Sinclair was waiting to pounce, but Barton challenged at the far post to ensure the ball was diverted the other side of the post.

Nedum Onuoha was a good outlet down the right for the Hoops, and he almost provided the opener when Zamora teed up his cross for Mackie to strike from twelve yards, but the defender scuffed his shot- hitting into the ground and Michel Vorm gathered safely.

Mark Hughes would have been pleased with his side’s spirit in the first half as they defended from the front, denying the visitors enough time on the ball to settle into their passing rhythm which had been widely praised by pundits, managers and players alike. But the away side were still very much in the game. Indeed, Brendan Rodgers’ side almost found a way through with a route one ball into the box, but Sinclair’s shot on the turn was blocked by Clint Hill before Wayne Routledge lashed the rebound high and wide.

Rangers had a penalty shout waved away when Buszaky’s shot clipped the elbow of Ashley Williams, and they were gifted an opportunity from the resulting corner when Vorm made a hash of his punch clear, but Zamora scuffed his effort over the bar from close range.

The scores looked destined to stay level until the break as both sides struggled to break through a congested midfield, but on the stroke of half time, Barton finally broke the deadlock. Swansea failed to clear Adel Taarabt’s free kick from the right and the ball ended up at the feet of the skipper, who cut inside and fired right-footed into the bottom-right corner of Vorm’s goal to send the home fans into raptures.

The visitors started brightly in the second period and Joe Allen tested Paddy Kenny with a stinging drive from the edge of the box after some good interplay in midfield with Leon Britton. The hosts were playing full of confidence after Barton’s opener and doubled their lead shortly before the hour mark.

Scotsman Mackie turned superbly away from Williams on the left hand side, before dragging the ball away from Angel Rangel and finding the bottom corner with a deflected effort from the edge of the box.

It was another moment of controversy in an Easter weekend packed full of incidents involving officials as Mackie looked to be offside when receiving the pass, but his finish was simply unerring and set his side well on their way to a crucial victory. The linesman kept his flag down.
Mark Hughes had Clint Hill to thank for keeping his side’s two-goal cushion intact when he headed away brilliantly from underneath his own crossbar following Sigurdsson’s vicious free kick, and ten minutes later, Akos Buzsaky made the game safe in sumptuous style. Taarabt found the Hungarian in space in twenty-five yards from goal. He took a touch to settle the ball, and hammered a right-foot shot which flew past the despairing dive of Vorm.

Last season, QPR defeated nine-man Swansea 4-0 on Boxing Day to go clear at the top of the Championship and minutes later they should have added a fourth in this one at Loftus Road.

Zamora jinked his way into the box and cut the ball back for Diakite, but some crucial last-ditch defending from Williams denied the midfielder a certain goal from point-blank range. A three-point lead beckoned for them away from the Premier League drop zone and they looked as though they were in dreamland.

It had been a poor night for the Swans with very few chances of note. Danny Graham missed probably their best of the half when he headed over from close range following Sigurdsson’s delivery, and the Icelandic international saw his own half-volley deflected wide moments later.

The visitors continued to plug away as they sought some consolation from the game, but the Hoops were able to see out proceedings in front of their vociferous support. In doing so, they put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three but with Wigan's surprise 1-0 victory over league leaders Manchester United, things weren't entirely comfortable and they certainly can't rest when they travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.



Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)- 0/10

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