Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Redknapp’s QPR settle for point

AFP, LONDON

Esteban Granero of Queens Park Rangers, left, battles for the ball with Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon in their Premier League match at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, England, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Harry Redknapp’s first match as Queens Park Rangers manager saw the Premier League basement club collect a point in a goalless draw away to Sunderland on Tuesday.

It was QPR’s first point since they drew 1-1 with Reading on Nov. 4, but the result meant the west London club, who last week sacked Mark Hughes as their manager, remained bottom of the table.

In the day’s other top-flight match, Aston Villa moved out of the bottom three after Christian Benteke’s goal 10 minutes from time secured a 1-0 win at home to fellow strugglers Reading.

Victory moved Villa two points clear of the relegation zone, with QPR eight from safety.

“We worked hard and we deserved a point tonight,” said Redknapp, whom QPR’s Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes hopes can repeat the rescue missions that helped both Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur stay in the Premier League after poor starts to top-flight campaigns.

“We defended well and denied them chances,” Redknapp told Sky Sports. “I feel more optimistic tonight than on Saturday [when QPR lost 3-1 to Manchester United].”

“I saw enough tonight to think we can go on a small run and keep ourselves in the pack,” the veteran English manager said.

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill was left with a feeling of “frustration,” saying: “I was hoping we would win the game.”

“I know QPR will be buoyed by Harry Redknapp’s appointment, but I thought we could create enough to win. There were chances at both ends, but it was a frustrating evening,” he said.

Meanwhile, under-pressure Villa manager Paul Lambert, who for the second match in a row did not even have club record signing Darren Bent on the bench, let alone in the starting lineup, was delighted with Benteke’s 80th-minute header that secured a valuable win at Villa Park.

“Benteke’s done fantastic for me. He was up against a big lad. It was a fantastic header,” Lambert said. “Darren Bent just has to play well and train well. He has a future, everybody has. Nothing against anybody in the club, but I’ve got 25 lads to look after. Bent and Benteke can play together — they did against Southampton. I’ve got to pick a team I think will win.”

Tuesday’s matches saw the Premier League welcome its 250 millionth fan through the turnstiles, more than 20 years after the league launched on Aug. 15, 1992.

Attendances at the Stadium of the Light (36,513) and Villa Park (28,692) pushed the figure beyond the 250 million mark.

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