QPR 3-2 Liverpool: Mackie knifes Reds with late winner
Published 22:11 21/03/12 By Neil McLeman
Jamie Mackie came off the bench to score a thrilling injury-time winner for QPR, but Liverpool's slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League are over after throwing away a two-goal lead in a match Kenny Dalglish's side dominated until a frantic finish.
A sensational Sebastian Coates scissor volley had seemed to set the Carling Cup winners on the way to their fourth consecutive win.
Dirk Kuyt then marked his 200th Premier League appearance with the second although Liverpool could have scored half a dozen against their hapless opponents.
But after captain Joey Barton was replaced to cheers and boos from the home crowd, QPR mounted a ridiculous and remarkable recovery.
And goals in the final 13 minutes from Shaun Derry, Djibril Cisse and Mackie resurrected a side which had looked dead and buried and heading back to the Championship.
Cisse was understandably ecstatic to head home the equaliser against his former club. And that would have been enough of a story.
But it was QPR veterans Derry and Mackie who tellingly scored the other two goals during the incredible fightback.
And maybe there is a lesson for the rest of the season.
While Swansea and Norwich have quietly secured their Premier League futures, QPR have brought in 11 new players and struggled.
Here, the West London club showed the fighting spirit of Neil Warnock's Championship-winning side for their new manager.
And Mackie, the player who has fought back from a career-threatening leg break to play in the Premier League, personifies that never-say-die attitude.
"Whenever Jamie comes on he gives you huge energy," said Hughes. "And I just felt we needed the momentum. In fairness to Joey he wasn't having the best of times, so I took him off.
"But those things happen irrespective of who the player is and you have to make a decision that you think will have a positive impact on the team. Hopefully people will think it was the right decision. I know it was."
Barton has since used Twitter to label his performance as his poorest ever - and to hit out at those that booed him.
"I was awful," he wrote. "Worst I've ever played in my career.But we WON.......and that's the most important thing. Onwards and upwards.
"Disappointed with fans booing, were [sic] meant to be in it together. They won't break me, guaranteed. I've been through much worse.
"Enough of the negative **** anyway. What a ******* result, great spirit shown by the boys and loyal fans tonight. Not the bells that booed."
Barton later posted: "Form is temporary, class is permanent."
Hughes' team move above Bolton with nine matches to go after only their second win in 17 Premier League games and first in seven.
There is still a long way to go but this could prove to be a miraculous turning point in a troubled season.
The Carling Cup winners, who reached the FA Cup semis on Sunday, lost their third successive Premier League away match and their fourth in five.
But how Liverpool did not score during an opening 20 minutes where they forced 10 corners will for ever remain a mystery.
If this had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped such was the pummelling they gave the home side.
Paddy Kenny made a double save from the inspirational Luis Suarez after four minutes and from the seventh corner in the opening 10 minutes, Luke Young blocked a Kuyt shot on the line.
It was not until midway through the half that QPR were able to finally string a few passes together.
"We came in 0-0 but we could have scored three or four," Dalglish rightly said.
Coates finally opened the scoring following Liverpool's 14th corner with a spectacular volley which could be described as Mark Hughes-like.
Kenny made a a fine save from Downing after 71 minutes but could not deny Kuyt a minute later.
Suarez waltzed through the home defence but his shot hit the post. Kenny saved Downing's follow-up effort, but the Dutchman stabbed home.
That should have been that even when Derry, the former captain, headed home a Taarabt corner after 77 minutes.
Suarez was then replaced by Andy Carroll and momentum shifted.
Cisse equalised with a header from a cross from sub Taye Taiwo.
And then in the 91st minute, Jose Enrique missed a Luke Young header and Mackie ran through to score and spark mad celebrations for a club which is still alive.
QPR (4-3-1-2): Kenny 7; Young 7, Onuoha 5, Ferdinand 6, Traore 6 (Taiwo, 46); Barton 4 (Mackie, 62), Derry 7, Diakite 5; Taarabt 5; Zamora 6, Cisse 6.
Liverpoo (4-4-2): Reina 7; Kelly 7 (Coates, 34), Carragher 7, Skrtel 7, Jose Enrique 7; Downing 7, Gerrard 7, Spearing 7, Adam 6 (Henderson, 46); Kuyt 7, Suarez 8 (Carroll, 82).
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)