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QPR 2-1 Fulham Premiership Matchday 17 1213 Daily Mail

last updated Monday 17th December 2012, 12:16 PM

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Malcolm Folley at Daily Mail

QPR(0) 2 Fulham (0) 1

The worst start in Premier League history is over.

And in the directors' box at Loftus Road, Rangers owner Tony Fernandes punched the air and wore a grin like a child on Christmas morning.

Relief flooded the stadium.

At the 17th attempt this season, Rangers recorded their first win, thanks to the sorcery of Adel Taarabt in a spirited performance that reflected the work of Harry Redknapp.

For the first time, Rangers have vacated the bottom rung of the table.

For the first time in a season that cost Mark Hughes his job after spending tens of millions of Fernandes' fortune, there is hope rather than despair in the air in Shepherd's Bush.

Fernandes runs a successful airline and he has not invested heavily in Queen's Park Rangers to see them timidly vanish from the Premier League.

'That is the best Christmas present ever,' said Fernandes last night.

'It is looking good - we're undefeated under Harry.

I feel like I have won the championship.'

Redknapp's brief on his appointment could not have been more simple, or more difficult.

From this morning, he has 21 games left to keep Rangers in the top echelon of English football, and that is a mission he can approach with slightly more optimism now.

'It's going to be tough, we're not kidding ourselves,' admitted Redknapp.

'But we have taken six points from four games; and if you get six points from every four games you can stay in the league.'

Last night the Rangers dressing room was the happiest it had been since relegation was avoided on the final day of last season and the difference was created by a tactical masterstroke.

Taarabt was given the freedom to play in the space behind striker Djibril Cisse.

'Every time we got him on the ball, Fulham were in trouble,' said the Rangers manager.

Redknapp is no stranger to the Moroccan's talent.

He had managed him at Tottenham but, at a club brimming with high-class players, Redknapp opted to sell Taraabt, a teenager with maverick tendencies, to QPR for £1million.

He appreciates that piece of business now.

'He has fantastic ability; he was amazing today,' said Redknapp.

Taarabt's touch and control are beautiful to behold.

He has the vision and time on the ball that only few possess.

And with space to play against Fulham, a conservative, unambitious team, he contrived to make a decisive breakthrough with Rangers first goal before scoring the second with sublime impudence.

In the 52nd minute, Taarabt cleverly brought the ball down, and as Cisse peeled to his left, he took advantage of the gap that opened in front of him.

Taarabt's shot, perhaps not the finest he has struck, took a big deflection off the outstretched leg of Brede Hangeland and left Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer wrong-footed as he covered the other side of his goal.

Taarabt raced to a corner of the ground to accept the congratulations of a section of a crowd that has not had much to shout about so far this season.

His next incisive involvement was memorable.

Barely in Fulham's half, Taarabt squeezed the ball through Hangeland's legs without the kind of resistance Fulham manager Martin Jol would have expected from his giant centre back.

In the clear, Taarabt teased John Arne Riise, running hard towards the Fulham penalty area.

And then after rolling the ball under his right foot, backwards and forwards with the skill of a conjuror, Taarabt dispatched a shot with the outside of his boot that entered the bottom corner of the net with gentle precision.

It was a moment of footballing genius.

It was also a moment Redknapp celebrated by jumping from his seat with his arms raised above his head.

Rangers fans roared their approval.

But when a team is at the wrong end of the table, life is rarely easy.

Two minutes from time Fulham substitute Mladen Petric was allowed to get within striking range and his left-footed shot beat Rangers goalkeeper Robert Green after taking a deflection off Alejandro Faurlin.

'I can only guess what psychological effect that had on the team having not won all season,' said Redknapp.

'I know how hard it was for me to live through those final minutes of the game.'

Jol, however, looked for no sympathy.

He was disgusted with his team's performance.

'I wanted to give 10 of the 11 players who beat Newcastle on Monday a chance to do it again,' he said.

'But we never looked like earning the right to play.

Rangers were first to the ball all the time and I am very disappointed with our style of play.'

For Redknapp there was only one blemish on the day.

In January, he can expect to lose Taarabt to Morocco for the Africa Cup of Nations.

But if Rangers can collect a couple more victories between now and then, Fernandes could be more easily persuaded to allow Redknapp to raid the market in the transfer window.

Last night, at last Rangers' season had lift-off.

QPR: Green, Traore, Hill, Nelsen, Onuoha, Faurlin, Mbia, Wright-Phillips (Da Silva 85), Taarabt, Cisse (Ferdinand 90), Mackie.
Subs Not Used: Julio Cesar, Diakite, Derry, Granero, Hoilett.

Booked: Taarabt.

Goals: Taarabt 52, 68.

Fulham: Schwarzer,Riether (Kelly 46), Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Richardson (Petric 63), Berbatov, Rodallega (Dejagah 72).
Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, Kacaniklic.

Booked: Sidwell, Dejagah.

Goals: Petric 88.

Att: 18,233.

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

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