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Report: Blues 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

The Croatian had just one thought in his mind when he caught sight of goal and was able to find the far corner in style.

BCFC

Blues beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon.

Two goals in three second-half minute’s saw Aitor Karanka’s men turn the game on its head in the West Midlands.

Kristian Pedersen headed home the leveller before Alen Halilovic hit his first goal for the Club with an unstoppable arching strike.

QPR had led until the final ten minutes through a Charlie Austin goal that came on the cusp of half-time.

The win was Blues’ first in B9 of 2021 and pulled them further clear of the relegation zone.

TEAM NEWS

Karanka named an unchanged team for the visit of QPR. This meant the starters against both Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City were retained, whilst there was a recall to the bench for Adam Clayton.

MAIN EVENT 

Blues made a positive start at a sun-kissed St. Andrew’s and had the game’s first significant effort on goal after a quarter of an hour. Looking for his maiden goal of the season, Gary Gardner’s well-hit half-volley had to be acrobatically put behind by Seny Dieng in the Rangers goal. And the midfielder had another effort deflected wide for a corner as Blues’ offensive effort continued.

The next chance fell to Scott Hogan with 30 minutes played, but he miscued his header inside the box from Ivan Sanchez’ clipped centre.

A further opportunity fell to Jeremie Bela six minutes later with the attacker doing well to force a save out of Dieng. Having rolled his marker, the Angolan, despite the ball not sitting down for him, managed to hook an effort on goal - reiterating Blues’ dominance.

But it was the visitors who against the run of the play went into the break ahead. Assisted by Todd Kane, striker Charlie Austin crept in at the far post to convert the full-backs deep cross in the 44th minute.

Half-time: Blues 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

The away side should have doubled their lead just moments into the second-half. Breaking away from a Blues corner, Chris Willock rolled the ball to square to Stefan Johansen only for the man on loan from Fulham to fire over in front of goal.

And with Blues not able to match their attacking output of the opening period, Karanka turned to his bench and made a triple substitution. This included both Halilović and Jonathan Leko along with Mark Roberts in a straight swap for Jake Clarke-Salter.

It was the former of these who made the first impact with an effort on target, but Halilović’s long-range free-kick was well gathered by Dieng.

Eventually, it was two defenders who combined for Blues’ equaliser with eight minutes remaining. After his long throw was initially cleared, the ball was recycled back out to Roberts whose first-time delivery was headed home by Pedersen.

This deflated The R’s and lifted Blues who completed the turnaround five minutes from time. Supplied by Sanchez, Halilović took one touch to both control and create a yard of space before whipping the ball from outside the area into the far corner.

The victory was a fitting way to mark the ten-year anniversary of Blues winning the Carling Cup, a game that also ended 2-1 with a late winning goal.

KEY MOMENT

Having threatened the spectacular since his debut against Bristol City in December, Halilović delivered the matchwinner and opened his Blues account with a wonderful effort. Adjusting his body to evade defenders with his control, the Croatian had just one thought in his mind when he caught sight of goal and was able to find the far corner in style.

FINAL OUTCOME

The result means Blues have 34 points from 33 matches played with the win taking them five points clear of the relegation zone.

MATCH DETAILS

Blues (4-1-4-1): Neil Etheridge, Maxime Colin, Harlee Dean (captain), Jake Clarke-Salter (Marc Roberts 63), Kristian Pedersen, Rekeem Harper, Gary Gardner (Alen Halilović 63), Ivan Sunjic, Ivan Sanchez (Yan Valery 90), Jeremie Bela (Jonathan Leko 63), Scott Hogan (Lukas Jutkiewicz 71).

Substitutes not used: Andres Prieto, George Friend, Riley McGree, Jonathan Leko.

Booking: Pedersen 53, Halilović 85, Roberts 96.

Queens Park Rangers (3-4-1-2): Seny Dieng, Rob Dickie, Geoff Cameron (captain), Yaann Barbet, Todd Kane, Dominic Ball, Stefan Johansen (Albert Adomah 87), Niko Hamalainen, Chris Willock (Sam Field 56), Charlie Austin (Lyndon Dykes 55), Macauley Bonne (Charlie Kelman 87).

Substitutes not used: Joe Lumley, Ilias Chair, George Thomas, Osman Kakay, Faysal Bettache.

Booking: Willock 13, Bonne 73.

Referee: David Webb.

NEXT STEPS

Blues are on their travels next week with two trips to Yorkshire lying in wait. Tuesday sees Karanka’s side face Huddersfield Town before visiting Oakwell to take on Barnsley in a 3pm kick-off next Saturday.

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