Barren Lions help R's climb off the bottom: how Stats Zone saw QPR 2-0 Aston Villa
Another tumultuous trip to London for Aston Villa, whose search for a Premier League goal goes on, beyond the 550-minute mark, as they failed to notch in five successive league games for the first time since March 1992.
"I thought the two goals we lost were really poor," lamented manager Paul Lambert, whose side enjoyed the lion's share of possession but conceded one goal from a long punt upfield and another after cheaply giving the ball away.
"I think that's the most we've had the ball, possession-wise, but the main stat is putting the ball in the net and keeping it out.
"I thought we defended poorly for the two goals and I think we've got to be more clinical in the last third of the pitch. The two goals were disappointing because we had most of the ball."
Lambert was partly forced into four alterations following Villa's 3-0 tonking at Everton. In came Carlos Sanchez and Andreas Weimann for Kieran Richardson and Charles N'Zogbia, while injured pair Alan Hutton and Nathan Baker were replaced by Matthew Lowton and Ciaran Clark.
The R's made one change from the sucker-punch loss to Liverpool eight days ago. Late brace bagger Eduardo Vargas was handed a start in place of Nedum Onouha, who came off at half-time of the Reds reverse with a hamstring problem, with Mauricio Isla reverting to full-back.
It was a frantic start to proceedings with QPR forcing an early corner before Ashley Westwood smashed an 18-yarder into Rob Green's midriff. But it was the visitors who were looking more likely to open the scoring, making inroads down the right flank as the hosts struggled to build momentum by misplacing passes.
Yet all of Villa's good work was undone after a quarter of an hour by a routine long ball. Bobby Zamora chested it down and Charlie Austin drilled his 20-yard effort beyond Brad Guzan.
The Midlanders responded with an inviting Lowton cross that Benteke could only glance narrowly wide of the far upright. After 30 minutes, the Villa full-back had been involved in the top two pass combinations of the match, but his deliveries weren't finding their intended targets.
Green was the busier keeper by the break, although he hadn't been overly worked as Villa failed to convert their 61% possession into a half-time advantage.
Lambert's men had slung in plenty of crosses, but the quality of them was poor and therefore unable to exploit Benteke's strength in the penalty area.
While Colombian midfielder Sanchez had been prominent; the best passer of the half and Villa's most successful tackler and ball recoverer.
Villa continued on the front foot upon the restart and had a particularly emphatic spell of possession in the first 15 minutes of the second period, completing 105 passes to QPR's paltry 20.
However, a lack of confidence that comes with going five games without a goal was showing as Clark prodded a close-range effort wide after Benteke nodded down a free-kick.
And again they paid the price. Junior Hoilett's introduction on the hour mark breathed new life into Harry Redknapp's charges, who created twice as many chances with the former Blackburn flyer on the pitch.
The substitute hit the woodwork with a delightful curler before the home side doubled their lead.
Sanchez's poor pass allowed Vargas to gallop down the right and cross for Austin to clinically convert. Rangers had scored twice from 2 shots on target.
Villa huffed and puffed for a way back into the game, but they knew it wasn't going to be their night when Green made a double save to deny Tom Cleverley's fierce volley and Clark's scrambled rebound.
R's fans were olé-ing every pass and cheering every tackle, as Isla mopped up at the back and helped the hosts see the game out. As well as setting up 4 chances for team-mates, the Chile international made a game-high 13 ball recoveries, 5/5 tackles and 5 interceptions.
Victory lifts QPR off the bottom; a vital three points with games against Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon. Villa's rotten run against London teams continues.
They've gone 6 games in the capital without scoring and lost 10 of their last 11 league outings against London outfits; a record extended at Loftus Road despite hogging 65% of the possession and firing off 15 shots.
"There's guys here with goals in them, it will happen," Lambert insisted. "My main concern tonight was that we had that much of the ball, you've got to score with it, but also you've got to defend when you're on top."
Lambert will be hoping Benteke's return to form is not too far away. The Belgium targetman, still not back to full match fitness, was able to top the charts in the air but could only direct 1 effort on target.
"The injury he had was really severe, and that's only his second game in six months or so," said Lambert. "It's a long time to be out and he may have to wait six, seven games before he really gets up to speed."
The service could have been better. Only 7 of Villa's 30 crosses on the night were successful, while QPR popped in a meagre 10 but still made 1 count to kill off the contest and send Harry home happy.
"It was a great result," he said. "We've been playing very well, we played well against Liverpool, played well here against Stoke and Sunderland, and missed a late penalty against Hull. We worked hard again tonight.
"But there was lots of good performances. Yun [Suk-Young] has come in at left-back the last couple of games and done fantastic. Richard Dunne and Steven Caulker were up against Benteke and played him great.
"It's the first time I've got 90 minutes out of Sandro. He's a big player and I've not been able to get him on the pitch and tonight he's made a difference."
- Charlie Austin has scored 23 league goals since the start of 2013/14 (including play-offs), 17 more than any other QPR player.
- Austin’s opening goal in this match was QPR’s first shot of any kind in the game (17 minutes in).
- QPR attempted only 2 shots on target in the opening 75 minutes – Austin scored them both.
- Villa have lost 5 successive Premier League games without scoring a single goal.
- The last time that Villa failed to score in 5 successive league games was in March 1992.
- Villa have become the ninth different side to lose 5 successive Premier League games without scoring a single goal. The PL record is 7 (Ipswich in 1995).
- This is the first time that Villa have lost 5 successive league games without scoring in the club's league history.
- Villa have failed to score in each of their last 6 Premier League games in London.
- Villa have lost 10 of their last 11 Premier League games against London sides.