A disappointing Chelsea had Cesc Fabregas to thank after the Spaniard scored in the 88th minute to win the west-London derby against Queens Park Rangers and re-establish Jose Mourinho’s men’s seven point lead at the top of the Premier League.
It was a scrappy affair during the first-half at Loftus Road. Chris Ramsey clearly told his players before the game not to give Chelsea’s creative stars any time on the ball. The likes of Joey Barton and Karl Henry were ready to pounce on any poor touch, and stop any chance of a free-flowing game.
The tactic appeared to work as Mourinho’s men at times struggled to keep possession, and bizarrely found themselves misplacing plenty of passes.
QPR’s front two were causing John Terry and Gary Cahill a lot of problems. Bobby Zamora managed to get a corner after forcing both into mistakes in quick succession.
And it was his strike partner, Charlie Austin who came closest to opening the scoring during the first 45 minutes. His powerful shot from twenty-five yards ten minutes before the break required a good save from Thibaut Courtois, who parried it away to safety.
The Blues’ best chances fell moments before the interval. A dangerous cross from the right was missed by Didier Drogba, who was standing in for Diego Costa and Loic Remy. A face-mask wearing Cesc Fabregas should have been on hand to convert the chance, but he could only head over the bar.
Very much like the first half, it was the home side, and relegation candidates, that created the best openings after the break. Winger Matt Phillips curled an exquisite cross into the box, which eluded everyone, including Zamora who could – and definitely should – have gambled to get onto the end of it.
Courtois was called into action again, this time denying Phillips. The former Blackpool midfielder opened his body up to take the ball away from the defence before unleashing a ferocious effort that looked destined for the net. But the Belgian stopper pulled off a wonderful reaction save to keep the game goalless.
As the minutes ticked down, it was his opposite number, Robert Green whose mistake led to the only goal. His kick ballooned into the air, and failed to get past QPR’s back-line. And it was Eden Hazard who was quickest to react. His burst down the left led to him playing the ball into the path of Fabregas, who smashed home from twelve yards.
The victory takes the Blues one step closer to the title – just four wins will now do it – whilst QPR remain two points off safety in 18th place.