Samba header denies Rangers

Rangers came into the match on the back of a 6-0 defeat at near

neighbours Fulham but responded well, dominating the majority of

the first period. QPR’s early momentum paid dividends as they took

the lead in the 16th minute through Heidar Helguson’s deft

cross-shot. The striker’s goal was the west Londoners’ first at

Loftus Road this season, but their joy was short-lived as Samba

latched on to Jason Lowe’s corner to put Kean’s side level. Both

sides wasted chances to win the match in the second half, with

results elsewhere putting Blackburn bottom of the league despite

ending a two-match losing streak. Jamie Mackie was named in the QPR

starting line-up for the first time since suffering a double leg

break against the same opponents. The 26-year-old was injured in a

collision with Gael Givet in an FA Cup tie in January. Mackie was

one of three changes made by manager Neil Warnock, with Helguson

and Armand Traore also included in the side. Blackburn made three

changes to the side that lost 4-0 to Manchester City, drafting in

Jason Roberts, Michel Salgado and Martin Olsson. QPR pressed from

the off and, after Helguson came close to connecting with Traore’s

left-wing cross, Alejandro Faurlin blazed a long-range drive over.

Blackburn had a chance of their own at the other end in the 13th

minute when Anton Ferdinand shinned an Olsson cross just over,

before QPR broke the deadlock three minutes later. After Helguson

saw a header accidentally blocked by Rangers skipper Joey Barton,

the 34-year-old coolly chipped over a cross from the right that

snuck in at the back post. QPR came close to doubling their lead

moments later when Barton’s driven ball almost found an unmarked

Helguson. However, the tide began to turn soon afterwards and,

after Olsson saw a free-kick hit the wall, Rovers levelled eight

minutes after falling behind. While struggling to dominate

possession, Blackburn looked dangerous from set-pieces and

equalised when Samba headed home Lowe’s corner. The Rovers skipper

was back marshalling the defence shortly after as QPR went on the

attack once more, with Shaun Wright-Phillips coming close with a

fizzing 25-yard effort. At the other end, an Olsson cross almost

picked out Junior Hoilett, who then had a shot cleared off the line

by Ferdinand after jinking past Shaun Derry and Barton. Neither

side managed to get a foothold on play in the opening 10 minutes of

the second period, with the only moment of note a booking for

Blackburn’s Steven Nzonzi. Fitz Hall produced a superb block to

thwart a run by the ever-impressive Olsson as the match began to

liven up once again, with most of the play in the Rovers half.

Blackburn looked content to counter-attack and allowed QPR to boss

possession, although they struggled to eke out any chances.

Wright-Phillips and Traore were booked as frustrations got the

better of QPR, who replaced Mackie with talisman Adel Taarabt

shortly afterwards. The Hoops looked lively after the Morocco

international’s introduction, although he was guilty of a heinous

miss on his 100th league appearance for the club. Wright-Phillips

headed Taarabt through on goal but he somehow managed to skew a

left-footed shot wide when the goal beckoned. Taarabt mishit

another shot in the 76th minute, before Lowe was booked for a

nasty-looking challenge on Faurlin. QPR upped the ante in search of

a late winner with the clock winding down. Taarabt had a penalty

shout turned down after a challenge by Salgado with six minutes

remaining, which came inbetween two poor headers from Hall. QPR

continued to press for a deciding goal but it was Blackburn who

almost grabbed victory in the dying seconds, with Paddy Kenny

forced to save Olsson’s shot in stoppage time.