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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Groupama Stadium, Lyon

Three things we learned about QPR's potential play-off rivals Huddersfield in 2-2 draw at West Brom




Promotion-hopefuls Huddersfield Town were pegged back by a late Andy Carroll header as they relinquished a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at West Bromwich. Under the watchful eye of Uruguay legend Diego Lugano at The Hawthorns, Huddersfield kept things tight at the back in the first half, very similarly to how the former Baggies and Diego Godin marshalled their country's defence a decade ago, when forging of the most resolute defensive partnerships in international football for Uruguay, reaching the semi-final of the World Cup 2010.


Huddersfield struggle to deal with high balls and under pressure


The Terriers proved hard to open up in the first 70 minutes. But when tiredness set in, they fell like a house of cards and let a two-goal advantage slip in the space of two minutes as they automatic promotion hopes took a massive dent. Karl Grant nearly completed their misery only for his thumping effort to rattle the crossbar at the death. The Terriers registered two shutouts in their last two league games but tonight they looked vulnerable under pressure and as soon as the Baggies increased their intensity after a passive first half. Defending set-pieces is not an area of their game Huddersfield excel at and whenever West Bromwich sent in a cross, the visiting fans were holding their breath due to the defence's inability to effectively clear their lines. And when Andy Carroll rose highest to send a flicked header beyond Lee Nicholls it exemplified their aerial fragility. He could have had another one minutes later but collided with one of his own teammates as the ball left his head. The ex-Hammer then made a sensational headed clearance on the goal-line to deny the West Yorkshire outfit all three points deep in injury time. If manager Carlos Corberan aims to seal promotion to the Premier League after a three-year absence he could do much worse than fixing his leaky defence which shipped two goals in less than two minutes.


Sinani-dependent


The Luxembourg international’s tap-in in the reverse fixture was enough to give Huddersfield all three points over the Baggies. But when he isn’t at his best, like tonight, Corberan’s men are short on creativity and inspiration. In the first half they failed to have a single shot on target and if it wasn’t for Sam Johnstone’s howler they would not have taken the lead. Nobody questions Sinani’s ability. He is good on the ball, loves cutting inside and curling the ball into the top corner with his potent left foot as his goal against Peterborough epitomised. But in tonight’s 2-2 stalemate he looked off the pace and devoid of ideas. Just like Huddersfield, whose goals came on the back of two mistakes by Sam Johnstone, who failed to hold onto the shot for Danny Ward's second.

QPR can beat them over two legs…and in a hypothetical final


If Huddersfield finish third and QPR sixth they will come up against each other in a potential playoff semi-final. And there are no doubts that QPR have what it takes to cause Huddersfield all sorts of problems with runs in behind and high balls into the box for Charlie Austin and Lyndon Dykes to finish off. Mark Warburton’s free-falling men dispatched the Terriers 1-0 back in November thanks to a Luke Amos goal. It’s worth remembering that Huddersfield have come a long way since, losing only once in the process but if the Hoops find their mojo back they are a better side in every area of the pitch. And Huddersfield simply don’t have a game-changer like Ilias Chair. And Danny Ward does not possess the same killer instinct as a Charlie Austin or Andy Gray. But five points in the last seven games are hardly the form of a promoted side and the West Londoners have to rediscover their flair and win games as they used to do in emphatic style in 2021. If they do, they stand every chance of getting the better of Huddersfield over two legs or at Wembley for football's richest game.

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