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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Chair nets winner as QPR beat Preston 3-2

by Alessandro Schiavone

QPR battled back from 2-1 down to eke out a 3-2 win against Preston North End courtesy of a sumptuous 75th minute finish by the irrepressible Ilias Chair who also created a further two.

By any stretch of the imagination this wasn’t a straightforward victory for the Hoops as they had lost momentum in the game after Preston North End’s Emil Riis Jakobsen erased Lyndon Dykes’s opener.

A minute or so after the interval Josh Earl then rubbed further salt into the shocked Hoops’ wounds as he gave Preston the lead by tapping the ball into the net as QPR were yet again found wanting at the back.

In the 78th minute Jimmy Dunne turned home QPR’s leveller before Chair sent the home fans into wonderland. But the hosts’ inability to kill off the game almost came back to haunt them had it not been for Lyndon Dykes getting in between to smother Daniel Johnson’s late effort from the edge of the box.

QPR got their noses in front when Lyndon Dykes pounced to prod home the follow-up after 18 minutes.

Up until that point, Preston North End had comfortably dealt with everything that had been thrown at them, defending their box with great authority and not allowing QPR any spaces in central areas.

But when they did, Ilias Chair had the time and room to break quickly and serve Andy Gray on the overlap. The former Watford striker then squared the ball to Dykes who saw his lame first effort blocked by Greg Cunningham before making amends and poking home QPR’s opener.

In the first 20 minutes the influential Hoops were so commanding that the visitors barely saw the ball and were forced to back off.

Five minutes after taking the lead Mark Warburton’s side almost got the cushion their dominance warranted but Chris Willock’s finish didn’t match his run as he fired straight at Preston keeper Daniel Iversen after brilliantly cutting inside from the left.

Ilias then miscued his shot from distance with Preston defending stoutly and hanging on.

And without even having to get out of first gear and almost by accident manager Frankie McAvoy’s side were level.

It was only their first sight of goal all afternoon on the half-hour mark but they made it count when Riis Jakobsen ran in behind Jimmy Dunne to latch onto Sean Maguire’s long ball into space. The Dane beat QPR’s centre-back before and held his nerve to clinically steer the ball beneath the advancing Seny Dieng. And those were worrying signs for QPR as that was first time they were asked a serious question all game and were opened up.

QPR lost their way a bit after being pegged back, almost as if all their confidence was shot by a one episode, by one lapse in concentration, by one moment of madness.

Moments later, Seny rushed off his line to deal with a long ball, almost in Fabien Barthez-esque World Cup 1998 style.

Johnson’s free-kick didn’t have enough bend and power to find the target before the break.

But a minute into the second-half Ryan Ledson delightfully chipped a cross into Maguire’s path which caught out the Hoops’ backline. And the Irishman’s cutback took a deflection off Dieng before it fell for Earl who clinically finished.

But QPR didn’t let their heads drop and showed resolve. The industrious Dominic Ball had a 54thminute curling effort palmed away by Iversen but the Hoops continued to turn the screw and it was wasn’t too long before they were back on level terms.

Dykes had a diving header disallowed before Dunne turned home Chair’s dipping free-kick at the far post to give QPR a much-needed and morale-boosting goal in the 72nd minute.

Three minutes later the turnaround was completed. Fatigue was clearly Preston North End’s undoing along with Chair’s magic which repeatedly opened them up. And they didn’t have the tools to deal with the up-and-coming attacking midfielder.

Substitute Charlie Austin had a first shot repelled by Iversen’s right foot but Preston made a hash of clearing their lines as Dykes’ interception dropped invitingly into the path of Chair, who curled a low effort into the far corner to send the fans into jubilation.

The mood went from churning tension to visceral relief in the space of three minutes and QPR fans are left dreaming once again about a potential promotion charge.

Debate has always raged among fans as to how long QPR will be able to keep hold of Chair. Well, if the young Moroccan keeps up this scintillating level of performances, he may not be here beyond January 2022 with several Premier League clubs reportedly watching.

But first things first and the Belgium-born star has always dreamed of emulating his countryman and idol Adel Taarabt, who single-handedly guided the Hoops to the Premier League in 2011.

And the Premier League is certainly not beyond this QPR side if they play like today.


1 Seny Dieng- 4 Rob Dickie- 6 Yoann Barbet- 7 Stefan Johansen-9 Lyndon Dykes-10 Ilias Chair-12 Dominic Ball- 19 Andre Gray-20 Jimmy Dunne- 21 Chris Willock-22 Moses Odubajo


12 Daniel Iversen- 2 Sepp Van Den Berg- 3 Greg Cunningham- 5 Patrick Bauer- 11 Daniel Johnson- 13 Alistair McCann-14 Jordan Storey-18 Ryan Ledson- 19 Emil Rijs- 24 Sean Maguire- 32 Josh Earl


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