EFL

Ilias Chair moves QPR towards safety with win at Bristol City

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Ilias Chair’s first-half goal boosted QPR’s survival chances in the Championship with a 1-0 victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

The key moment came three minutes before half-time when Lucas Andersen’s low cross from the right was stroked home right-footed by the unmarked Chair, who coolly passed the ball into the net from 12 yards.

From then on Rangers defended their lead with great tenacity against an out-of-sorts home side, who struggled to create meaningful openings.

QPR remained in the relegation zone, but they sit just a point behind fourth-bottom Millwall.

City made two changes from the 3-1 midweek win over Southampton, with Ross McCrorie and Nahki Wells replacing George Tanner and Tommy Conway, who dropped to the bench.

Rangers boss Marti Cifuentes made five alterations to the team beaten 1-0 at Stoke, welcoming back the influential Chris Willock and Chair to his starting line-up.

The home side lined up wearing a replica strip of the one worn by their counterparts of 50 years ago as City celebrated their FA Cup fifth-round replay victory over then unbeaten First Division leaders Leeds at Elland Road in February 1974.

But the historic kit failed to inspire as Liam Manning’s side looked a shadow of the team who had beaten Southampton so convincingly during a dour first half in which they barely tested visiting goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

City had plenty of the ball, without creating clear openings. Their best effort came in the 37th minute from Anis Mehmeti, whose curling shot from the corner of the box was parried by Begovic.

Jason Knight and McCrorie fired narrowly wide, while at the other end Willock had a shot charged down. But there was little to enthuse either set of fans until Chair’s quality finish.

Knight and Joe Williams had efforts blocked at the end of a half which ended with boos from some City fans.

Chair’s goal had been Rangers’ only shot on target. But they began the second half on the front foot, with his low 49th-minute shot saved by the diving Max O’Leary.

By the 58th minute Manning had seen enough and sent on Taylor Gardner-Hickman, Dire Mebude and Tommy Conway for Williams, Knight and Mehmeti.

It made little difference. O’Leary kept his side in the game with another diving stop, this time to keep out Andersen’s powerful drive.

City continued to flounder going forwards and Rangers defended their lead with comfort as both coaches made further changes.

Conway shot narrowly wide after 82 minutes for City, but it was Rangers who finished the stronger, Willock twice foiled by O’Leary saves and substitute Michael Frey shooting into the side-netting.

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