Liverpool beat QPR 2-1 on Saturday afternoon, with the result putting them four points behind Manchester United who play later in the day.
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The hosts went into the game knowing a win was vital if they were to keep alive their already slim hopes of a top four finish, while the visitors knew that a failure to take something from the game would almost certain put survival beyond their reach.
Liverpool made three changes from the side that was humiliated by Steve Bruce’s Hull City on Tuesday, with the injured Mario Balotelli making way for veteran forward Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana coming in for Jordon Ibe to make his first start since 22nd March, and captain Steven Gerrard playing instead of Joe Allen.
QPR, meanwhile, made one switch from the team that drew 0-0 at home to West Ham last weekend, as Leroy Fer came in for Bobby Zamora.
Liverpool were very lucky not to find themselves a goal down after only one minute. A scuffed Matty Phillips corner was turned in at the near post by Fer, but the referee correctly judged that the ball has bounced out of play before ending up in the back of the net.
Despite the early scare, Liverpool soon settled. Aside from an ambitious Steven Caulker bicycle kick which went a couple of feet wide of the left-hand post, Liverpool made all the runnings. Gerrard and Lambert both went close, and the goal finally came in the 19th minute.
The scorer was Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho. The 22 year old has enjoyed a fantastic season and added yet a another delightful goal to cement his place as Liverpool’s best current player. Rickie Lambert supplied the assist, and the talented youngster bent the ball into the top corner from 12 yards out.
Ten minutes later Liverpool briefly thought they’d doubled their lead thanks to Raheem Sterling, but after a beautifully intricate move, the Reds’ winger was flagged offside. The lack of protests suggests the referee’s call was the correct one.
The second half was a much more drab affair for the opening half an hour, but exploded to life when QPR’s Leroy Fer smashed in a lovely volley from a Joey Barton corner.
Less than ten minutes later Gerrard had a great chance to restore Liverpool’s lead from the spot, but saw his effort saved.
The final ten minutes saw Onuoha sent off for two yellow cards in three minutes. The first game on the penalty call, with the second being for a rash lunge on Jordon Ibe.
Before Gerrard finally stepped up to head home the winner and redeem his earlier miss with only four minutes to go.
Next up for Liverpool is a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea – a game that could see Chelsea win the title if they fail to beat Crystal Palace on Sunday. QPR need a miracle to avoid the drop. Their remaining games are Man City away, fellow strugglers Newcastle United at home, and Leicester City away.