Barton back in QPR good books
Queen's Park Rangers 3 Swansea City 0: Less than a month ago Queen's Park Rangers supporters were barracking Joey Barton and he was making it perfectly clear he didn't much care for them either. No such sentiments exist in Shepherd's Bush this morning.
Barton, recalled to replace the suspended Shaun Derry, scored the goal that set Mark Hughes's side on the way to a victory that has given everyone at Loftus Road renewed hope that relegation can be avoided.
"There's only one Joey Barton" was the updated version before Rangers supporters went on to cheer a deflected second by Jamie Mackie and a thumping third by Akos Buzsaky.
"I knew I'd bounce back," Barton said afterwards. "The supporters wanted more from me. I'm a strong character and I knew I would show people what I am capable of producing."
"I thought Joey was excellent," said Hughes, who had left the midfielder out of the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United to eradicate any chance he might be suspended for the run-in. "He came into the game really fresh and the goal topped off an excellent performance."
If Rangers are to stay up then it will be displays like this that will make it happen, particularly as their away form is so poor. Only three times have they tasted victory beyond Loftus Road and the most recent success, at Stoke City, dates back to November.
"The fans really drive us on and we feel we can give anyone a game here," Hughes said. "That is going to be crucial although we will still strive to pick up away points."
Swansea had irritated the home fans with their penchant for the possession-retaining short pass but Rangers were always the more urgent and had gone close on a number of occasions before Barton broke the deadlock with a low drive from the edge of the box when a free-kick was only half cleared.
Mackie was marginally offside when he accepted Anton Ferdinand's long ball 10 minutes into the second half, turned two defenders and thumped the ball past Michel Vorm with the help of a deflection off Angel Rangel.
But Rangers felt that was nothing compared to the injustice they had suffered at Old Trafford on Sunday, when Derry, the last man, was dismissed for making minimal contact with an offside Ashley Young.
"It's the old adage – these things even themselves out," Hughes said. "I think we were due a bit of luck."
Buzsaky's 67th-minute strike, after Adel Taarabt had picked him out in space on the edge of the box, was a cracker and condemned Swansea to a fourth straight defeat. They are still 10 points clear of bottom three but manager Brendan Rodgers was cautious nonetheless.
"I have always said we can't take our foot off the pedal until the very last game," he warned. "We were poor. We were too slow and loose with the ball and gave away a poor goal right on half-time. The second half was disappointing too. Overall we didn't deserve anything."
Man of the match Hill.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee L Probert (Wiltshire).