Jan 28 2012 By Yann Tear
Anton Ferdinand Image 2
QPR 0-1 Chelsea - FA Cup 4th round
QPR failed in their bid to repeat their epic league victory over their bitter west London foes in a match that will be remembered more for the controversial backdrop than for anything on the pitch.
Juan Mata's neatly struck penalty just past the hour was enough to settle a largely uninspiring fourth round FA Cup tie which never quite managed to rise above the subplots and recriminations.
It was always likely that the football would be overshadowed, with a court case only days away in relation to the alleged racist comments made by John Terry towards Anton Ferdinand (pictured) when the teams met in October.
It would have been a hard hat event even without that history in the air, so the fact a proper match did not break out came as no real surprise.
The tension may have been palpable at kick off, but the occasion lost some of its poison thanks to a wise decision by the FA – how often to we say that? - to scrap the usual pre-match handshakes.
That did away with the anticipated 'will they, won't they' moment between Terry and Ferdinand and the potential fallout from an expected snub by Ferdinand.
A largely anaesthetising first half further diffused the animosity, though the imaginative chanting from home fans did not let up for a moment whenever Terry had possession.
Chelsea mostly controlled the game. Keeping the ball well and absorbing the sting in the atmosphere with some crisp passing – albeit without too often troubling the Rangers rearguard.
Their best moment in the first half came when Mata robbed Luke Young 40 yards out and advanced to send a low shot goalwards that Paddy Kenny had no trouble turning aside.
Terry seemed like a magnet for the ball in the early stages, but it afforded the Loft End the opportunity to claim their pound of flesh in venting antipathy towards the Chelsea captain.
The Blues began to ramp up the intensity in the second half and when Fernando Torres left two defenders floundering in the penalty area with as quick change of feet, Daniel Sturridge powered the subsequent pull-back just over the bar.
But there was still good fortune about the way they broke the deadlock.
Mata tucked home from the spot after 62 minutes after Clint Hill had bumped in to Sturridge as the Chelsea player went up for a cross to the far post. It seemed a soft collision, but ref Mike Dean did not hesitate in pointing to the spot.
Rangers almost took the lead a minute earlier, when Shaun Wright-Phillips wriggled in from the right and forced Petr Cech into a save. Jamie Mackie was only inches away from touching home the rebound. But in truth, they rarely threatened after that.
Young came closest in the final minute of a prolonged injury time - an injury to Ramires the cause of the extra minutes - but Cech was equal to a low shot to his right.
QPR: Kenny; Young, Hall, Ferdinand, Hill; Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Barton, Buzsaky (Hulse 79), Smith; Helguson (Macheda h/t). Subs not used: Cerny, Orr, Derry, Ephraim, Onuoha.
CHELSEA: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Sturridge, Ramires (Romeu 79), Meireles, Malouda, Mata (Essien 90); Torres. Subs not used: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Lukaku, Cahill, Bertrand.