QPR, Chelsea in dour draw
QPR v Chelsea (Getty Images)
London - QPR defender Anton Ferdinand snubbed Chelsea's John Terry and Ashley Cole at the pre-match handshake, but there were few highlights to follow in a dour 0-0 draw at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Ferdinand came face to face with Terry for the first time since the England star was found not guilty of using a racial slur against the QPR defender in the corresponding fixture last October.
As had been widely predicted, Ferdinand ignored Terry's outstretched hand during the traditional pre-match greeting and also snubbed Cole to show his feelings about the Blues left-back, who appeared at the trial as a character witness for his Chelsea team-mate.
No other QPR player appeared to ignore Terry or Cole after suggestions the whole team would snub the duo.
Once that awkward confrontation was over, it was QPR who took more from a game that saw Chelsea drop their first points of the Premier League season.
Composure had been in short supply during the handshake and the frenetic tempo ensured neither side settled into the game during a charged first half that did nothing to dilute the pre-match antagonism.
On another day, referee Andre Marriner might easily have dismissed Ryan Bertrand for a crunching challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips, while Chelsea considered they had two valid penalty appeals - first when Shaun Wright-Phillips challenged Eden Hazard and then when Ryan Nelsen appeared to manhandle Terry - ignored before the break.
Before then, the visitors had offered an early sign they would assume control of the game when Fernando Torres and Ramires combined to set up an opening for Hazard in the fourth minute.
Hazard met Ramires's low cross with a first time shot but Julio Cesar showed why Mark Hughes had grasped the opportunity to sign the Brazil keeper despite the summer arrival of Robert Green by producing a superb reaction save to his left.
Former Inter Milan star Cesar again showed signs of his quality with a diving save to deny Torres midway through the half.
But the best chance of the first period fell to David Luiz, who headed wide 10 minutes before the interval as he moved to connect with Frank Lampard's header.
QPR's early efforts were more focused on containment although they did threaten to open up the visitors' defence, particularly when South Korea midfielder Park Ji-Sung made headway down the left hand flank.
But on the only occasion Hughes's side managed to get a clear sight of goal, Chelsea keeper Petr Cech dealt with Bobby Zamora's shot comfortably.
Chelsea’s control of the central midfield areas was weakened and with the home side enjoying long spells of possession, it was no surprise when a clear opening fell to substitute Jamie Mackie, who saw his shot well saved by Cech five minutes after the break.
An even better opportunity presented itself to Park six minutes later and the Rangers skipper should have done much better than direct a tame header straight at Cech after being picked out by Esteban Granero.
Chelsea managed to create a chance to rival that spurned by Park when Hazard found Branislav Ivanovic at the far post, only for the Serb to send a close range header wide.
In the closing stages, Zamora was gifted a chance by John Obi Mikel's miscued back-pass. The striker rounded Cech but was forced too wide to take advantage.