NEWCASTLE United will face a nerve-wracking final day in their Premier League survival battle after squandering control to lose 2-1 at already-relegated QPR.
Scorers: Queens Park Rangers - Phillips 54, Fer 61; Newcastle United - Riviere 24
Matt Phillips and Leroy Fer fired second-half goals to deny John Carver’s embattled Newcastle their Premier League safety at Loftus Road yesterday afternoon.
Newcastle will now host West Ham United at St James’ Park a week today still fighting for their Premier League lives, after spurning the chance to complete their survival bid in west London.
The sole comfort for Newcastle in their dismal defeat was Hull’s 2-0 loss at Tottenham that leaves manager Carver’s men favourites to escape the drop – but only just.
Emmanuel Riviere ended a 21-game Premier League drought with his first top-flight goal in England to hand Newcastle a 1-0 half-time advantage. The Tynesiders collapsed after the break, however, QPR scoring twice in seven minutes to turn the tie on its head.
“It was a mad ten minutes in the second half and that was hugely disappointing,” said under-fire Newcastle manager Carver. “I thought in first half we were in control. They weren’t a threat, we were organised.
“We knew the result we tried to get today and had to get. We had to go for the win. Having lost, this is the best scenario with Hull losing. There’s one game left and it’s a do or die situation.
“We have to manage the pressure this week, focus and keep out of media spotlight. We’ve talked about some games in the last three, four weeks being the biggest and next week against West Ham is one of them.”
Newcastle’s toothless run of form extended to ten games without a win, stretching back to the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on 28 February.
The visitors were in total control when Riviere notched Newcastle’s first away goal in 521 minutes, but fell completely off the pace after the break. Riviere ended his hefty drought to hand Newcastle a deserved lead at the break – but his finish carried a fair slice of luck.
Tim Krul lofted a free-kick from deep in his own half straight over QPR’s statuesque defence, and Riviere ghosted through on goal. The 25-year-old flicked the ball against his standing leg, profiting from the fortunate deflection to chip the onrushing Rob Green.
Former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton then poleaxed former England stopper Green, unwittingly kneeing the QPR keeper in the head. A groggy Green left the field, thankfully on his feet, to be replaced by Alex McCarthy.
Carver’s men ought to have added to their lead before the break, but were still in charge, leading 1-0 at the turnaround.
Rangers should have equalised at the start of the second half – and the public address system operators thought they had. Scotland international Matt Phillips hacked wide from point-blank range, only for goal celebration music to blare out around the ground for half a second.
In-form striker Charlie Austin then fired wide from six yards after working himself free, in another early second-half let-off for Newcastle.
But Newcastle’s luck ran out when Austin laid on the equaliser with a fine far-post cross for Phillips, who atoned for that earlier miss by nodding past Krul.
And when Krul scuffed a clearance that Phillips gobbled up, midfielder Fer raced forward and lashed the ball home from 25 yards.
Moussa Sissoko wasted a prime chance to drag Newcastle back on terms, dragging wide after good work from Sammy Ameobi.
The QPR fans seemed in good spirits at full-time, indulging in a pitch inspection and chanting “We are going down”. Caretaker coach Chris Ramsey paid tribute to them afterwards.
“The fans have been absolutely fantastic all season,” said Ramsey. “It’s important we got those two goals. It’s gets us back to thinking good things in the summer.
“There was plenty of effort in the first half, but lacked that bit of quality. Leroy Fer has got that in his locker – he brings a little bit of extra flavour to our team.
“I think fans can see we will try our best and that we will try to put the club on an even footing.”