EFL

Marti Cifuentes confident of QPR survival despite Middlesbrough defeat

By Sports Desk March 09, 2024

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes remains “convinced” the club will avoid relegation despite their recent resurgence being ended by a 2-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough.

Rangers, unbeaten in their previous four matches – which included a win at leaders Leicester and Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with West Brom – faded in the second half at Loftus Road, where goals from Emmanuel Latte Lath and Marcus Forss gave Boro the points.

Cifuentes’ side recently climbed out of the relegation zone, where they had been since September, but remain just one point above second-bottom Sheffield Wednesday.

“Trust me, I don’t need a defeat to have a reality check. It’s a really difficult situation,” Cifuentes said.

“I’m convinced that we’re going to manage to reach the target, but if anyone thought it was easy they were making a big mistake.

“I’m not a magician. I’m here to help. But to expect we’re going to win every game is delusional. It’s going to be tough.”

A win would have been a massive boost for Rangers in their battle to stay up but, after being the better team for much of the first half, they ran out of ideas and energy in the second.

Cifuentes admitted: “We have a sad feeling because it’s true that we had big expectations about this game and we didn’t perform – not even close to the last game.

“We had a very demanding game on Wednesday, emotionally and physically, and Middlesbrough played 60 minutes against 10 men against Norwich, so perhaps that’s one of the reasons they looked more energetic in the second half.

“It’s very demanding when you have three games in just a few days and especially when you have Leicester away and West Brom, which were very demanding.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick believes back-to-back wins have underlined the fighting spirit of his players.

Boro lost four out of their five matches prior to the recent upturn but are eight points away from the play-off places and still in with a slim chance of promotion.

Carrick said: “I keep saying about the spirit of the boys. It’s easy when you’re winning to say that, but when you have a tough spell – and we’ve had a couple of tough spells – you see people’s characters and their real personalities.

“The boys have been incredible in terms of sticking together and finding a way through it.

“It’s two big results for us. There’s no getting away from that. The timing of the two results has been good and we’ve got two games coming up before the international break that we need to make the most of.”

Latte Lath broke the deadlock after 64 minutes as Rangers were unable to clear a free-kick and Matt Clarke nudged the ball towards the Ivorian striker, who sent a right-footed volley past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and into the corner of the net.

Forss doubled the lead 12 minutes later following a counter-attack.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game but what mattered most was the spirit and willingness to work for each other,” said Carrick.

“I’m delighted. To find a way to grind out a win was pleasing. The boys did what they needed to do to get the win.

“It was a case of having the belief and backing themselves to go and win the game.”

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