English Premiership

Norwich down QPR

2012-01-03 09:48
Joey Barton (File)

London - Norwich won a battle of promoted sides on Monday as it rallied to beat 10-man Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Loftus Road in a Premier League game marred by Joey Barton's sending off.

QPR captain Barton opened the scoring for the home side with a shot from 12 meters (yards) out in the 11th minute but was then shown a red card for an apparent headbutt on Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson.

The visitors capitalised on their numerical advantage through Anthony Pilkington, who equalized with a long-range shot in the 42nd minute.

A second-half strike by Wales international Steve Morison proved to be the winner for Norwich, leaving the home side winless in eight league matches.

Norwich had started the brighter of the sides with midfielder Simon Lappin, who was making his debut, delivering an inswinging free kick that was headed behind for a corner in the opening minutes.

But it was QPR who struck first.

Barton's finishing was clinical when he converted a low cross from Clint Hill on the left that eluded the Norwich defenders, beating goalkeeper John Ruddy.

But 35 minutes later, as his teammates were racing ahead after clearing a corner, the controversial midfielder was involved in a tussle with Zak Whitbread behind the play. Barton then tangled with Johnson in the center circle and appeared to headbutt the Norwich midfielder.

After consulting an assistant, referee Neil Swarbrick sent Barton off. The midfielder was adamant in his denial of wrongdoing, protesting his innocence as he made his was down the tunnel.

Barton's absence was keenly felt by QPR as the visitors started to press. Pilkington found himself in space on the edge of the box and managed to drill ball into the bottom right corner for the sides to finish an eventful first half on even terms.

Despite playing with 10 men, QPR manager Neil Warnock opted to inject attacking pace to his side, replacing Jamie Mackie with Shaun Wright-Phillips to start the second half.

The former Chelsea and Manchester City midfielder made an instant impact on the game as Ruddy had to get down quickly to save his low shot.

On 53 minutes, Norwich centre-back Daniel Ayala upended Heidar Helguson to concede a free-kick 25 yards out. Adel Taarabt managed to send his effort over the wall, and Ruddy was again forced into a reaction stop low to his right, deflecting the ball on to the post.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert responded to QPR's resurgence with a triple substitution on 65 minutes as Morison replaced Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan came on for Lappin and David Fox replaced fullback Adam Drury to leave just three at the back.

The changes eventually paid off in the 83rd when Morison scored from close range after Hoolahan had nodded down Pilkington's cross to leave Rangers just above the relegation zone and Norwich back up in the top 10.


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