Fulham prevail in extra-time - but QPR rue lack of finishing in cup tie there for the taking
FA Cup Third Round
QPR 0 Fulham 2 (after extra-time)
Bobby Decordova-Reid ended the west London derby stalemate with a goal at the end of the first half of extra time to tilt a pulsating cup tie decisively Fulham’s way.
Moments later, Neeskens Kebano – another of the 10 subs used in total by both sides - thumped a second into the roof of the net from inside the box to seal the deal.
Reid had already gone close to breaking the deadlock with a glancing header which shaved past a post but his excellent finish after playing a one-two with Aleksandar Mitrovic was a moment of class that had been a long time coming after a game littered with missed chances.
His low strike from outside the box gave Seny Dieng no chance.
For all the flaws, this was a compelling tie that a raucous crowd would have appreciated.
In a compressed season dominated by thoughts of survival for both sides, it is doubtful that a long FA Cup run features prominently in the thinking of either manager.
Premier League survival is everything to Scott Parker’s men while Rangers are too close to the Championship relegation fray to become overly ambitious about their targets.
But the football was entertaining and belied the theory that this was a third-round tie neither of these west London rivals would much care for.
All that was missing for the most part was composure in the final third because both sides created plenty of opportunities to win it in normal time.
But the abject finishing did lend the game an appropriately chaotic feel, as befits some of the best FA Cup ties.
Fulham undoubtedly had the better of the opening half, with Joe Bryan almost catching out Dieng with a cheeky first-time effort from 45 yards which drifted over the Rangers keeper but inches wide – the stopper having raced from his line to deal with Bryan’s through ball to Ivan Cavaleiro.
Bryan then set up Josh Onomah for a low shot that flashed just wide of the far post. Earlier, Cavaleiro blazed over when well placed.
Mitrovic – who rumours suggest may move on after an unhappy season at Craven Cottage – looked rusty but was twice close to giving the Whites the lead.
It needed a brilliant smothering challenge from Yoann Barbet to block the Serb in front of goal and the striker also sent a header just past an upright from a corner.
There was plenty to encourage the hosts, however, with Ilias Chair testing Marek Rodak from outside the area early on, and the Fulham keeper needing to have a strong raised arm to halt a full-blooded drive from Bright Osayi-Samuel – the opening having been made by Lyndon Dykes after a scamper down the right flank and perfect cross into the danger zone.
The chances kept coming after the interval, Mitrovic again showed lack of form in failing to control a fine pass from Harrison Reed, when a better first touch would have left the goal at his mercy. Bryan then forced another save after being worked into a shooting position by Mitrovic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
After a Fulham breakaway led by Cavaleiro, Mitrovic had a low shot cleared off the line by Barbet.
As long as it stayed 0-0, Rangers had hope and they might have led when a deflected Todd Kane cross was volleyed over by Macauley Bonne at the far post and Rodak did well to later block a near post ball which fell Bonne’s way, six yards out.
There was an even better chance when a long ball over the top found Dykes, who disappointingly blasted into the upper tier of the Loft End as glory beckoned.
Soon after, Dominic Ball released Osayi-Samuel down the left-hand side and a low cross inside the six-yard box was a fraction away from being turned in by the onrushing Dykes.
Rangers finished the game looking like the side most likely to spare us extra-time, but we were destined to see the drama prolonged – and for the top flight club to ultimately prevail.
QPR: Dieng – Kane, Dickie, Cameron (Masterson 90), Barbet, Osayi-Samuel (Hamalainen 90)– Chair (Thomas 82), Ball, Carroll (Bettache 82), Bonne (Kelman 73) - Dykes. Subs not used: Willock, Barnes, Adomah
Fulham: Rodak – Aina, Ream, Kongolo (Hector 68) – Tete (Odoi 90), Reed (Kebano 78), Loftus-Cheek (Robinson 90), Bryan – Onomah, Cavaleiro (Decordova-Reid 67) – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Adarabioyo, Fabri, Carvalho, Jasper