Battling Everton hold on for a point at QPR
Queens Park Rangers 1 Everton 1: A feisty, even and slightly manic afternoon ended with both managers in calm and magnanimous agreement. Neither Mark Hughes nor David Moyes would have necessarily backed some of their players' decisions not to wear the Kick It Out T-shirts, but they respected their rights to do so. There would be no repeat of the stand-off at Manchester United at either Queen's Park Rangers or Everton.
Anton Ferdinand followed his brother in not wearing one, along with Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nedum Onuoha, Junior Hoilett and Djibril Cissé. Hughes said he had expected his players to wear them, but would certainly not be punishing them. "It's a personal thing," he said. "Everyone has a view on whether enough is done, or everything that can be done, sometimes people will take a personal view."
Everton's Steven Pienaar, Sylvain Distin and Victor Anichebe did not wear the T-shirts either. "It is too big a subject just for David Moyes' opinion to matter that much," said their manager afterwards. "I did speak to the players. I gave them the opportunity, it was up to them to decide. I spoke to them and told them how I felt. I understand their points of view, and I'm totally supportive of the players."
The football itself could not have started much better for Hughes. Everton won two corners within the first minute, the second of which Julio Cesar punched away. The ball flew out to Hoilett, who pushed past Phil Neville. Hoilett tore downfield but seemed to have missed his moment to pass to Adel Taarabt. Angling away from goal, he tried a hopeful shot which deflected off Leighton Baines and went in.
The goal was rushed, clumsy and not obviously planned. The rest of the game was similar. Neither side could establish much control on a wet pitch, and there was very little cohesive team play.
Taarabt, a brilliant individualist, had some dangerous moments, playing through Armand Traoré, who nearly set up Bobby Zamora. Esteban Granero, whose gifts are more predictable than Taarabt's but no less exciting, grew in influence, chipping in a free-kick which Ryan Nelsen headed just over.
Playing in midfield against Everton is meant to be difficult. They are the Premier League's best harriers and botherers, but here Rangers were doing most of the work. With Marouane Fellaini missing his first league game of the season, there was a lack of authority in the heart of the team. Granero was free to have his fun without fear of reprisals.
But Rangers are very generous hosts when it comes to offering their guests chances. After 33 minutes a fairly routine Pienaar free-kick met no resistance, and Distin headed in via a combination of Cesar and the far post. Rangers panicked and could have conceded two more in the next minutes. Nikica Jelavic was the victim of an unpunished trip in the box before Phil Jagielka headed against the bar.
If the two-goal first half was fun enough, the goalless second was even livelier. The whole 45 minutes felt like the manic closing stages of a tight game. The ball flew from one end to the other, with players struggling to keep up with it or maintain their footing.
Pienaar, perhaps trying to replace Fellaini's menace, made too many tackles and was booked twice within 10 second-half minutes. He will miss the Merseyside derby next weekend. Moyes described it as "very, very harsh", but was delighted with how his players held out with 10 men. "We had to play in a slightly different way today," he said. "We had the old-fashioned Everton resilience, we had to dig in."
Tim Howard made two excellent saves – one down to his right, the other high to his left – from Hoilett shots. Rangers, eventually taking advantage of their extra man, might have had a penalty when Hoilett was tripped by Seamus Coleman. Jagielka made an added-time block from Granero's shot, but Rangers could not pick their way to their first Premier League win of the season.
"On another day we should have beaten them," Hughes said. "It is just not falling for us at the moment. We know there are going to be days when results and games go for us. Things will turn round, I'm convinced of that."
QPR: CESAR 5/10, BOSINGWA 6, MBIA 5, NELSEN 7, TRAORE 6, PARK 5, GRANERO 8, DIAKITE 6, TAARABT 6, ZAMORA 5, HOILETT 8
Everton: HOWARD 7, BAINES 7, DISTIN 7 JAGIELKA 8, COLEMAN 5, MIRALLAS 6, OSMAN 5, PIENAAR 6, NEVILLE 5, ANICHEBE 5, JELAVIC 6
Goals: QPR: Hoilett 2. Cesar og 33
Substitutes: QPR Cissé (Zamora, 71), Onuoha (Traoré, 72), Ferdinand (Nelsen, 83). Everton Naismith 6 (Anichebe, 52), Heitinga (Jelavic, 83). Booked: QPR Diakité, Granero. Everton Piennar (twice).
Sent-off: Everton Piennar (61).
Man of match Granero. Match rating 8/10.
Possession: QPR 55%. Everton 45%.
Attempts on target: QPR 6. Everton 4.
Referee J Moss (West Yorkshire). Attendance 17,959