Liverpool piled on the misery for QPR as they comfortably beat Harry Redknapp’s beleaguered side 3-0 at Loftus Road in the final Premier League match of the year.
QPR have won just once all season and were utterly devoid of confidence in an abject and insipid first-half showing as Luis Suarez capitalised on some shoddy defending and was rampant in scoring two goals inside the first 16 minutes.
Suarez, who appeared to enjoy the freedom of Loftus Road throughout the first half, has now netted 12 away goals for Liverpool in 2012, while Daniel Agger added a third in the first half as QPR crashed to their 23rd league defeat in the calendar year.
The only down side for Brendan Rodgers was that he missed the match: the Reds boss was taken ill in London, as were back-up goalkeeper Brad Jones and head of performance Glen Driscoll also sent home with the bug.
Assistant manager Colin Pascoe and coach Mike Marsh deputised at Loftus Road, where Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and former QPR youth team player Raheem Sterling were brought into the starting line-up, while Redknapp - who took charge of his 600th Premier League match – recalled goalkeeper Julio Cesar, along with Nedum Onuoha, Ryan Nelsen and Samba Diakite.
Liverpool made an assured start to the match and in just the fourth minute Suarez unleashed a crisp strike from 25 yards which stung the palms of Cesar in the QPR goal, and he was only able to parry it away unconvincingly.
Suarez did manage to open the scoring as early as the 10th minute, however, as he fired a clinical right-footed finish beyond Cesar after being allowed to coast past Clint Hill into the QPR box, and leave the keeper helpless.
Just six minutes later, Suarez had doubled his tally: Downing combined with the forward down the right, before Onuoha slid in and diverted the ball back to the striker, who lashed a powerful strike into the roof of the net for his 13th league goal of the season.
A period of incessant pressure from the visitors ensued, and Ryan Nelsen did superbly to clear off the line for the hosts to prevent an otherwise certain third goal: Glen Johnson had got in behind Armand Traore and fired a low cross towards the far post, where Suarez was lurking ominously on the goalline should Nelsen have missed the clearance.
It did not take long for Liverpool to score their third as Agger rose imperiously to head powerfully beyond Cesar from Henderson's dinked cross from the right. It gave Agger his second goal of the season and first Premier League goal away from home.
The calamitous defending from the hosts continued as Cesar flew recklessly off his line to leave Steven Gerrard to hammer a low shot on target, only for Onuoha to desperately throw his body in the way of the ball to clear just off the line.
Liverpool have lost nine of their last 16 Premier League games in London, but by half-time they looked comfortable and Redknapp made a defensive change in replacing striker Djibril Cisse with previously out-of-favour midfielder Shaun Derry at the break.
There was a marked improvement at the start of the second half from the hosts, but Suarez nearly bagged a hat-trick as he jinked inside two challenges and fired a fizzing shot which Cesar had to palm wide.
A series of substitutions and niggly fouls resulted in a very scrappy period around the hour mark, but Stephane Mbia came very close for QPR as he curled a decent shot agonisingly wide of the far post from the edge of the box after neat build-up play with Jamie Mackie.
Liverpool suffered an injury setback in the 70th minute as the excellent Jose Enrique hobbled off after having pulled his hamstring, with Suso a surprise replacement for his fellow Spaniard; but it was only a momentary blip in what was an otherwise trouble free evening for the Merseyside club.
It was a much-improved showing from Redknapp's side in the second half, but it was too little, too late with Liverpool having won the match in the first half hour to claim their seventh league win of the season to move up into ninth place and leave QPR rooted to the bottom of the table.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Luis Suarez – Liverpool: It may have been as comfortable as a training match for the striker in the first half, but he won the game with two clinical finishes and was a constant threat in the final third.
QPR: Cesar 5, Onuoha 6, Nelsen 7, Hill 5, Traore 5, Diakite 5, Mbia 6, Taarabt 6, Wright-Phillips 5, Mackie 6, Cisse 5. Subs: Derry 7, Granero 6, Fabio 6.
LIVERPOOL: Reina 6, Johnson 7, Skrtel 6, Agger 7, Enrique 7, Gerrard 7, Allen 7, Henderson 6, Sterling 6, Downing 6, Suarez 8. Subs: Lucas 7, Carragher 6, Suso 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League
- Ryan Nelsen