, Sports reporter
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Goalkeeper Mark Bunn saved a second-half penalty from Adel Taarabt to earn Norwich City a valuable Premier League point from their lunchtime kick-off at Loftus Road.
Referee Jon Moss awarded Queens Park Rangers the spot-kick after 56 minutes when he decided Bunn had brought down Jamie Mackie as the striker pursued a poor backpass from Javier Garrido, and the official showed Bunn the yellow card.
But the keeper dived to his left to keep out Taarabt’s kick and the Canaries held out despite being on the back foot for much of the second period.
Rangers keeper Julio Cesar made second-half saves from Wes Hoolahan, Bradley Johnson and Robert Snodgrass, but City’s opportunities against the bottom side were limited.
Norwich lost Anthony Pilkington in the first half to what looked like a hamstring problem, but new signing Luciano Becchio was not given his debut until three minutes from time.
City will be happier with the point than QPR, still with just two league victories all season and only one of them at home. But Norwich themselves have now gone eight league games without a victory.
City, wearing their black change kit, fielded an unchanged eleven after the 1-1 draw against Tottenham in midweek, but Becchio, the striker who arrived from Leeds on transfer deadline day, was named among the substitutes in place of David Fox.
Rangers showed four changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Manchester City, including new signings Christopher Samba and Andros Townsend in their eleven and recalling Jamie Mackie and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Out went Nedum Onuoha and the injured Loic Remy, while Esteban Granero was dropped to the bench and defender Ryan Nelsen left the club this week to become head coach of Toronto FC in Canada.
Another new signing, midfielder Jermaine Jenas, was included among the substitutes.
Taarabt was into the action in the opening minute but fired well wide, only for City to create a better opening in the fourth minute when Snodgrass crossed to the near post but Hoolahan’s touch flew over the angle of post and bar.
Taarabt went much closer on 10 minutes with a determined run that took him past two challenges before he struck a low drive just past Bunn’s right-hand post.
Taarabt had a third effort blocked at close range by Garrido as he continued to enjoy plenty of early possession, and it was his close control that set up another chance for Mackie, but the lone striker pulled his shot across the face of goal.
City were forced into an early change when Pilkington, who appeared to have a hamstring problem, made way for Elliott Bennett, who was quickly into the action with a smart interception but floated his cross behind the goal.
With 27 minutes gone, there was another opening for the Canaries as Hoolahan made space to cross from the right, but Snodgrass’ header lacked power and was straight at goalkeeper Cesar.
Garrido’s cross then found the head of Holt, but he too directed his effort straight at Cesar.
City forced a couple of corners in quick succession, Bassong heading off target from the second.
As Rangers pushed forward, Wright-Phillips got the better of Garrido but then slice his shot a long way wide.
Mbia was shown the yellow card six minutes before the break for a foul on Elliott Bennett that gave City a free-kick five yards outside the Rangers area, but Snodgrass curled a tame effort wide.
Turner, with blood on his face, was ordered off by referee Moss to seek attention and change his shirt before returning shortly afterwards.
An inswinging corner from Taarabt had Bunn stretching and he appeared to tip it over the bar, but referee Moss awarded a goal-kick.
• Half-time: Queens Park Rangers 0, Norwich City 0
Turner was back on the field with no ill-effects and Rangers had the first opportunity when a shove by Garrido on Wright-Phillips gave them a free-kick on the right-hand corner of the Norwich area. Taarabt took it and City escaped as the ball drifted across the face of the goal with neither side able to make contact.
A foul by Tettey on Townsend gave the hosts another dead-ball opportunity. Taarabt’s kick was helped on by a Mackie backheel but straight at Bunn.
Garrido was booked for a body check on Wright-Whillips after the winger had given Elliott Bennett the slip.
City had their best opening yet on 53 minutes when Cesar made a fine save to keep out Hoolahan’s first-time touch from a Snodgrass cross.
Desperate defending by Fabio denied Holt a far-post header as the Canaries enjoyed a bright spell, then Holt was just unable to make clean contact with another cross into the six-yard box.
Rangers replaced Wright-Phillips with Zamora and immediately wasted a golden chance to go ahead from the penalty spot.
Garrido’s poor backpass left Bunn short and as Mackie nipped in, the keeper was adjudged to have brought him down.
Referee Moss booked Bunn but when Taarabt took the 56th-minute spot-kick, Bunn dived to his left to make a fine save.
Tarrabt, trying to make amends, curled a free-kick over the top from just outside the penalty area, then forced Bunn into another save from a swerving shot.
It was Cesar’s turn to shine again as he beat away a powerful long-range attempt from Johnson.
Tettey joined his team-mates in the book for a trip on Traore and from the resulting free-kick by Taarabt, Holt hooked away a header by Samba.
Rangers replaced Mbia with new signing Jenas with just over 20 minutes left, and they made their final change when Ben Haim replaced Fabio.
Bunn saved a low drive from Townsend after Bassong had given the ball away, and Hill headed wide from the resulting corner.
Snodgrass lifted the pressure with a swerving effort from more than 20 yards that Cesar turned round the post.
Turner was given a ridiculous booking nine minutes from time when all he appeared to do was head a bouncing ball away from Mackie.
Jenas took the free-kick that followed but couldn’t find a way through the black shirts.
Zamora headed wide with a decent chance as Rangers looked for a late winner.
Hoolahan teed up Holt for a shot but Cesar was right behind it.
As the home side broke, Bassong was shown the yellow card for a block on Mackie, but was back to head the resulting free-kick over the bar.
With four minutes left, Townsend let fly from long range and Bunn dived to his left to make a fine save. Hill headed wide from the resulting corner.
Becchio was finally given his debut as the clock ticked round to 87 minutes, Hoolahan making way for the new signing.
A foul by Snodgrass on Taarabt meant another free-kick to defend as the game entered five minutes of time added on, but Derry’s kick failed to clear the first man.
• QPR: Cesar; Fabio da Silva (Ben Haim, 74), Samba, Hill, Traore; Derry, Mbia (Jenas, 69); Wright-Phillips (Zamora, 54), Taarabt, Townsend; Mackie. Subs (not used): Green, Park, Granero, Bothroyd.
• Norwich City: Bunn; Russell Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass, Hoolahan (Becchio, 87), Pilkington (Elliott Bennett, 24); Holt. Subs (not used): Camp, Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Howson, Jackson.
• Referee: Jon Moss (West Riding)
• Attendance: 17,543 (1,617 City fans)
• Bookings: QPR: Mbia (39). City: Garrido (52), Bunn (56), Tettey (67), Turner (81), Bassong (85)