Harry Redknapp’s tenure as QPR manager started with a tepid goalless draw at Sunderland as the winless Hoops stayed bottom of the Premier League.
A poor match in poor conditions at the Stadium of Light did little to heighten the mood of two clubs in relative degrees of trouble, but at least QPR kept a clean sheet for only the second time this season.
The best opportunity was a Steven Fletcher header kept out by a near miraculous save from QPR substitute keeper Robert Green, but the hosts were particularly negative while QPR were workmanlike but uninspiring.
The result sees QPR rooted to the bottom of the division on five points, with no wins this season, while Sunderland hover just above the drop zone with 13 points.
Not unexpectedly for two teams at the lower end of the league, there was little to write home about in the first half.
Sunderland were forced to replace injured defender John O’Shea with Matt Kilgallon, and they lost skipper Lee Cattermole early on after he aggravated a knee injury.
QPR’s new boss made three changes from the side which lost to Manchester United: Kieron Dyer was unable to play two matches in a week, while Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero and Samba Diakite all returned to the starting XI.
The visitors had the better of the play in terms of possession and positivity, their pair of chances also more clear-cut than Sunderland’s.
Djibril Cisse had a low drive palmed behind by Simon Mignolet, who had a nightmare in the 4-2 loss to West Brom but made a wonderful stop to deny Jamie Mackie, Adel Taarabt twice denied on the rebound.
The hosts, meanwhile, toiled in the final third, although Julio Cesar was twice called into action to keep out a header from Carlos Cuellar and a Steven Fletcher drive.
The visitors suffered a blow though as Cesar picked up a groin injury, Brazil’s 2010 World Cup goalkeeper replaced at half-time by Green - England’s number one in South Africa.
The game had picked up a touch towards the end of the first half, but the second 45 started in similar fashion to the first – the only moments of mote were a couple of bookings, and a brave punch away by Green at the feet of Fletcher.
The match needed a spark and it came when Green made a magnificent reflex stop when Fletcher thought he had buried a header from Sebastian Larsson’s corner – he somehow clung on to the loose ball after his one-handed stop, before launching a counter attack from which QPR won a string of set pieces.
But everything that needed to be said about the match was encapsulated when, with a quarter of an hour left, a fine low Danny Rose cross flashed across the face of goal, with none of his team-mates even past the penalty spot let alone attacking the six-yard box.
There was a bit of a buzz about the final few minutes as both sides pushed for a late winner, but Shaun Wright-Phillips’s turn and shot – easily saved by Mignolet – was the best anyone could fashion, although had Stephane Sessegnon been taller than 5’6” he may have met James McClean’s fine cross with a winning header.
It would have been harsh on QPR, who were the marginally better side overall, with neither team deserving to win a forgettable match.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Danny Rose - Sunderland: The England U21 full-back showed great drive to get forward as often as he could, looking to inspire an uninspiring Sunderland. MOM by default.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet 7, Bardsley 6, Rose 7, Kilgallon 6, Cuellar 6, Cattermole N/A, Gardner 5, Larsson 6, Johnson 5, Sessegnon 5, Fletcher 6; Subs: Colback 6, McClean 6, Saha N/A.
QPR: Cesar 7, Bosingwa 6, Traore 6, Hill 6, Nelsen 7, Mbia 6, Diakite 6, Granero 6, Taarabt 5, Mackie 6, Cisse 6; Subs: Green 7, Park 6, Wright-Phillips 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Steven Fletcher