Two second-half strikes from Ben Sahar saw Queens Park Rangers come from behind to stun Fulham in their final pre-season friendly before the start of their Premier League campaign tonight.
Lawrie Sanchez’s side went ahead through an early strike from skipper Brian McBride, but there were some alarming signs head of the big kick-off at Arsenal on Sunday as Fulham wilted under second half pressure from Rangers. The Israeli international equalised just before the hour when he punished a defensive error from Zat Knight, stripping the defender of possession on the edge of the Fulham box before advancing and thumping a shot past Antti Niemi. Sahar secured the win after seizing a loose ball from Ian Pearce and firing emphatically into far corner.
The defeat was something of a surprise after Fulham had dominated the first period. QPR began brightly with Dexter Blackstock denied by a brilliant Niemi save after the striker had been left unattended at a corner, but Fulham quickly went in front with a fine midfield move. Steven Davis switched play to Chris Baird wide on the right and the full back’s deep cross was headed back across goal by Healy for McBride to fire home from eight yards out.
McBride nearly doubled Fulham’s lead with an acrobatic overhead kick but the American striker was harshly penalised for jumping into Lee Camp. Healy hit a venomous volley start at the goalkeeper on the half hour mark and then played provider, setting up McBride again, only for the American’s measured finish to be smothered by Camp.
QPR made an accomplished start to the second period with Sahar shooting fractionally over from an acute angle six minutes after the break, before McBride shot straight at Camp from twelve yards out. That miss was to prove critical as Sahar’s double gave Rangers a lead they never really looked like relinquishing. Collins John was denied by a late save from Camp and McBride lifted a finish over the grounded Camp and the crossbar after reaching Liam Rosenior’s cross.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-3-3): Camp; Barker, Stewart, Mancienne, Rehman; Bolder, Walton, Rowlands; Sahar, Moore, Blackstock. Subs: Cole, Bignot, Nardiello, Simmonds, Shimmin, Nygaard, Minto-St Aimie, Baidoo, Bailey, Timoska.
GOALS: Sahar (58, 68).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi (Warner 63); Baird, Konchesky, Knight (Pearce 63), Bocanegra; Smertin, Davis (Diop 63), Dempsey (Rosenior 75), Cook (Volz 45); McBride, Healy (John 63). Subs (not used): Omozusi, Christanval.
GOAL: McBride (10).