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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 25 February 2021
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5 thoughts from today's Premier League matches

QPR finally get the win they’ve craved all season, Liverpool are undone by Benteke and Norwich’s Irish pair again come up trumps.

Taarabt was brilliant for the Rs today.
Taarabt was brilliant for the Rs today.
Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/Press Association Images

At long last, three points for QPR

IT MAY HAVE taken them an astonishing 17 games, but QPR finally recorded their first Premier League win of the season this afternoon.

The Rs ended the winless steak, which is a record in England’s top tier, with a 2-1 victory over fellow Londoners Fulham at Loftus Road and had talents of one man in particular to thank. Adel Taarabt may often be seen as something of a luxury player but he was head and shoulders above the rest here – scoring both QPR goals during a display which manager Harry Redknapp described as  ”one of the all-time great performances”.

The mercurial Moroccan may have had a bit of luck with his first, which took a deflection off the leg of Brede Hangeland to divert it past Mark Schwarzer after his excellent run from deep, but his second was exquisite. Receiving the ball just inside the opposing half, Taarabt drifted by a couple of tackles before nonchalantly curling it into the far corner with the outside of his boot.

QPR are still along way from safety but will have taken huge confidence after getting the monkey off their back as they left the foot of the table (moving ahead of Reading) for the first time this season.

City back on track

After finding themselves on the losing side of the Manchester derby and six points adrift of their city rivals, the reigning champions bounced back with a convincing performance at St James’ Park in the early game to close the gap to three for a couple of hours.

Roberto Mancini dropped Mario Balotelli for Carlos Tevez and it worked a treat as the Citizens put three past Newcastle – with goals coming from Sergio Aguero, Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure.

Apart from the result, City played some of their best football, particularly in the first half, and it bodes well going into the festive period where Mancini will be looking at obtaining maximum points against Reading, Sunderland and Norwich.

Benteke the main man for Villa

Just as things were beginning to look up for Liverpool fans, they watch their side concede three at home in a fixture they will have pinpointed as winnable.

The Reds controlled the game for considerable periods against Villa but couldn’t penetrate in the final third and were stunned when two attacks resulted in two goals for the visitors. Christian Benteke is proving a real handful for Premier League defenders and after scoring the opener with a speculative strike from distance, provided a delightful backheel to tee up Andreas Weimann for the second.

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Benteke then sealed the win with his sixth goal for the club before Steven Gerrard’s consolation. In a week when Brendan Rodgers spoke of mounting a challenge for fourth spot, the defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow.

Contrastingly, Paul Lambert’s young Villa team is beginning to find some consistency. They are now unbeaten in five league games since the 5-0 drubbing by Manchester City last month and, coupled with the 4-1 Capital One Cup quarter-final win over Norwich in midweek, there are plenty of positives to take going into a meeting with Chelsea next Saturday.

Canaries flying high

Giovanni Trapattoni has in the past accused the Irish media of bigging up certain players who are eligible to play for his international team after a couple of half-decent games at club level. Even the Italian would have to admit, however, that Norwich pair Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington have been instrumental to the club’s incredible rise up the table in recent months.

The duo were again right at the heart of the Canaries’ 2-1 away win over Wigan. Hoolahan, whose work rate is exemplary, refused to give up after losing possession and battled it back to put his team-mate through for their first. Pilkington caught a sight of goal and let fly with a belter past Ali Al-Habsi.

The winger, who looks increasingly likely to receive his first call-up to the Ireland set-up in the new year, then turned provided – getting the better of Emmerson Boyce before crossing for a rare Hoolahan header.

With Ireland assistant Marco Tardelli watching from the stands, we are hoping that sense prevails and both feature in the friendly with Poland on February 6.

Straight talking from Moyes

You often hear managers blindly defend their players by using cliches like “he’s not that type of player” or insisting they hadn’t seen the incident in question but Everton boss David Moyes was under no illusions after Marouane Fellaini’s headbutt on Ryan Shawcross.

The Belgian decided to launch his head, afro and all, straight into the face of Ryan Shawcross as a corner was in the process of being taken. Referee Mark Halsey missed the clashed and Fellaini escaped any punishment during the game but Moyes made his feelings clear after the final whistle.

Yes he did (overstep the mark) and we will accept whatever punishment is given out for it,” he told Sky Sports. “I have told him in the dressing room that it is not acceptable and whatever gets handed out he and us deserve it.”

Refreshing to hear.

Watch the Fellaini headbutt here

VIDEO: Fellaini escapes punishment after blatant headbutt

As it happened: Premier League 3pms

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Ben Blake

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