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Nygaard wonder goal stuns Leicester
Nygaard wonder goal stuns Leicester
Saturday, 17th Mar 2007 18:59

QPR brought their terrible run away from home to a spectacular end at the Walkers Stadium on Saturday.

Every now and again you just have a perfect day. Admittedly it doesn't happen very often when you're a QPR fan but that just makes it all the more special when it does. I mean where is the fun in following the Man Utd's of this world? We won again. Shocking news.

I've seen every one of our last eleven away games, nine of which have ended in defeat, and it's been hard work. Our reward for that slog came yesterday in Leicester.

If I could have written down everything I wanted to happen yesterday I couldn't have scripted it better. Everybody in our group was nicely drunk by the kick off after an excellent pre-match and although QPR looked like they'd gone back to their bad old ways in the first half they really played well in the second.

Two quick goals settled the nerves and then Marc Nygaard stepped up and closed the goal of the season competition with eight matches still left to play. All the other results went exactly as we wanted them to, the away end was loud and proud, the drinks were flowing on the train home and the Sheffield based R's had a fantastic night out on the town when we got back. To cap it all even my rugby league side won.

The QPR side that made the day so fantastic featured three changes from the team that were unlucky not to win at Derby on Tuesday night. Lee Camp was back in goal instead of Simon Royce and Adam Bolder was back in midfield instead of Steve Lomas alongside Inigo Idiakez. Martin Rowlands' injury kept him out, Gareth Ainsworth took his place wide on the right.

Other than that it the team lined up the same with Mancienne, Stewart, Cullip and Bignot at the back. If you bought a programme and haven't had a flick through yet, make a point of reading Marcus Bignot's run down on his team mates - he had us in stitches on the train afterwards. Lee Cook played left wing with Furlong and Nygaard up front.

Leicester went into the game without the services of striker Matt Fryatt who is coming back from a long term injury. He has caused QPR problems in the past so it was a relief not to see his name on the team sheet but you felt that a front two of Hume and Horsfield would cause us a few problems in his absence.

Indeed it was the home team that started the better of the two sides. Iain Hume tricked his way between a couple of static defenders and forced a good save from Lee Camp inside the first 90 seconds as the Foxes asserted themselves on the contest early.

By the fifth minute Hume had gone close again, a low cross from Mark Yeates flashed right across the face of goal with the Canadian and his partner Horsfield both agonisingly close to converting it.

QPR were lethargic and slow all across the park. They gave the ball away frequently, were second to every loose ball and missed far too many tackles. By the 15th minute on Tuesday there were 1-0 up against a far better team than Leicester but by that point of this match they could easily have been 3-0 down. After the two early near misses Jason Jarrett tested Camp with a shot from the edge of the area. The away fans were getting frustrated, why do QPR raise their game against the better sides only to drop it again against lesser ones within days?

Referee Neil Swarbrick was adding to the frustration with a poor first half performance. Furlong and Nygaard were persecuted by the official in the first 45 minutes, constantly being whistled against for even meagre and non-existent offences. When Paul Furlong was hauled to the ground by Kenton and the free kick went Leicester's way you started to wonder what it would take to get a decision out of the referee.

He did book Johansson for a deliberate hand ball which prevented Ainsworth bursting into the penalty area but his first half performance was summed up nicely by a bizarre incident on the half hour mark. An overhit pass from midfield ran through to Lee Camp and he prepared to launch the ball down field. However the linesman was flagging for a foul by Cullip on Horsfield that had taken place forty yards away from him, right under the nose of the referee who initially gave nothing.

Now presumably the referee saw nothing wrong with the incident otherwise he would have given it and yet without consulting with his linesman who'd made the decision for him he showed Cullip a yellow card. So if he didn't see it how can he know, without speaking to his assistant who gave it, that it was a booking? Cullip made this point to both officials during a break in play before half time. To make matters worse an identical incident with Furlong and Kenton at the other end was ignored by the officials.

Rangers could have no complaints about Damion Stewart's booking for a lunge from behind on Iain Hume in the 26th minute though - sometimes you've got no chance of winning the ball and you just have to stay on your feet, Stewart needs to learn that.

Lee Camp was again called into action around the same time as that booking. Maybury let fly from outside the penalty area and Camp needed to be at full stretch to save the Scottish full back's powerful drive. Even the classy Michael Mancienne got caught in possession a short time later, losing out to Horsfield on halfway and leaving his team short handed at the back. Horsfield picked out Yeates who curled his shot wide of the post with Camp struggling to get across to it. A free kick from Iain Hume sailed over the wall but he was twenty five yards out allowing Camp to get a clear sight of it and was able to turn the ball away.

In return QPR offered very little. Adam Bolder sent a shot so high over the bar it might actually have orbited the moon had there not been a stand behind the goal to stop it, and Paul Furlong headed Lee Cook's cross high and wide as well. Gareth Ainsworth's low cross too close to the keeper that Henderson made a mess of and conceded a corner was as good as it got.

Camp's best save of the match came five minutes before half time. Shaun Newton was giving Marcus Bignot a tough examination down the Rangers' left and his powerful run set up a chance for Stephen Hughes which Camp parried brilliantly and QPR had enough bodies back in the area to smuggle the rebound away with Yeates ready to pounce.

QPR had been a distinct second best to this point but could so easily have taken the lead just before half time. They worked the ball into Nygaard's feet from wide right but he contrived to turn the chance wide of the post with the goal gaping. Plenty of people in the away end, myself included thought it had gone in and when they realised he'd missed one or two started to send the usual stick Nygaard's way. Luckily the half time whistle went soon after and Gregory had a chance to get the lads back in the sheds for a serious talking to. They just hadn't been at the races for long periods of time in the first half.

The first change at the start of the second half saw Lee Camp emerge with a new goalkeeping top on. He'd gone for a maroon colour in the first half but came out sporting an Irish green number on St Patrick's Day in the second. If he does this every week I've only just noticed it now so sorry about that!

The second change was a complete shift in attitude and tempo from rangers. Suddenly it was QPR snapping into tackles and putting their opponents under pressure. Idiakez and Bolder grabbed hold of the midfield and started to dictate the pace and direction of play. Leicester had no time on the ball anywhere on the park with Furlong and Nygaard working hard to shut everything down.

QPR got their reward for this within three minutes. Marcus Bignot sent a long free kick into the area from the left back position, Marc Nygaard won the header cleanly and sent the ball across the face of the six yard box, Idiakez met it at the back post and sent a looping header beyond Henderson and into the far corner. Henderson had been a spectator in the first half and his first meaningful action of the game was picking the ball out the back of the net. Soul destroying for him, a cause of great excitement and celebration for the travelling R's.

Suddenly there was only one team in the match. QPR poured forward almost straight from the kick off and Kisnorbo had to turn Bolder's low cross out for a corner as Furlong threatened to sneak in and double the lead. The respite was brief though. Lee Cook had a quiet afternoon on the left wing but when his devilish cross from the right was only partially cleared inside the six yard box Furlong was bundled over by Maybury as he attempted to control the loose ball and a penalty was duly awarded.

After so many nailed on penalties not being awarded in crucial matches this season it was a massive relief to see the referee point straight to the spot as Furlong hit the deck. There didn't seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm among the players for taking the spot kick though and when Marc Nygaard picked the ball up there were a few hearts in mouths up in the corner of the stand but he calmly stepped up and rolled the ball into Henderson's bottom right hand corner as the keeper dived left.

Nygaard had missed a great chance in the first half and hasn't had a particularly good season to this point. The fans have been on his back and he's had criticism from all sides, including this website, but when a crucial spot kick needed to be taken in a massive match he stuck his hand up and wanted the ball while all around him shied away. Credit to him for that, and for sticking the ball away of course. It was good to see Marcus Bignot go up to him before the penalty and thank him for taking the responsibility on. You could taste the relief in the air when he knocked it into the net. The best was still to come though.

Leicester manager Rob Kelly decided he was getting nowhere with Horsfield's brawn providing few problems for Danny Cullip so decided to send on some pace instead and former Fulham youngster Elvis Hammond came off the bench. Within five minutes he had indeed skinned Cullip for pace but Stewart came across to cover and forced him out to the corner. Stewart may frustrate and anger with his inconsistency but he's bloody quick and when he actually engages his brain he's a decent centre half at this level - if he can cut the stupid mistakes out of his game he could be a real asset. The raw materials are there, but he makes too many mistakes at the moment.

John Gregory made a change of his own after the second goal. Rangers have forgotten how to win games of late, drawing when they should have won and losing when they should have drawn, so slinging on Steve Lomas to secure the midfield in place of Idiakez seemed a sensible move. The Spaniard got a good reception from the away fans as he went off, his first goal for the club and another steady performance had been crucial in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

The Lomas substitution seemed to suggest a 'what we have we hold' attitude from Rangers and indeed Leicester did start to press a little bit after it but Rangers were never troubled and Lee Camp didn't have a real save to make until late on in the game.

One man who wanted more though was Marc Nygaard. With 22 minutes still left for play he latched onto a flick on from Paul Furlong wide on the right flank. He had nobody up in support but there was never a thought in his mind about bringing the ball down and waiting for help, or running to the corner flag. The Dane just let rip, smashing his laces through ball and sending an unstoppable world class volley over Henderson and into the top corner - almost ripping the net off the back of the posts in the process.

This was a quite fabulous goal, easily the best of the season, fit to grace any match. If Rooney or Berbatov or Drogba had done this we'd never here the end of it. The goal was met with four seconds of stunned silence in the away end as the travelling QPR fans just stared, open mouthed, struggling to comprehend what they'd just seen. Did Marc Nygaard really just do that? The big man himself even looked somewhat surprised. Manic celebrations quickly broke out though - the game, and the valuable points were safe.

The final twenty minutes of the game played out with Leicester going forward forlornly, as if they knew it was a pointless exercise but they had to be seen to do it. They created three chances before the end - Lee Camp came for a deep cross from Danny Tiatto who'd replaced Hughes but could only palm it down to Shaun Newton with one hand. The loaned West Ham winger blazed wildly over the bar when he should have done more with the chance.

As he had done at Derby on Tuesday Lee Cook showed the value of a man on the post at corners when he diverted Kisnorbo's header from a corner out from under his own cross bar. Camp and Newton renewed their battle a later when a goal mouth scramble wound up at Newton's feet, Camp ran out and crouched in front of him before blocking the ball away to safety with another great save. Camp's performance on the day was reminiscent of his first ever in a QPR shirt up at Hartlepool.

At the other end Gareth Ainsworth and Adam Bolder almost crafted a fourth on the counter attack but Henderson spectacularly dived out to claim Ainsworth's cross. Furlong was then booked for kicking the ball away stupidly after Leicester were awarded a free kick on the touchline.

QPR made a their final two substitutions in the last five minutes sending on Jimmy Smith for Ainsworth and Ray Jones for Paul Furlong. The away fans gave Furlong a standing ovation as he went off, this was his best performance of the season in my opinion, he was awesome in the second half and key figure in the win. His replacement Jones found time in the remaining five minutes to pick up his eighth yellow card of the season for chopping down Darren Kenton.

In stoppage time referee Swarbrick, massively improved in the second half, made a real hash of a penalty decision. A cross from the right was intercepted by Cullip who diverted the ball out for a corner either with the top of his thigh or arm - replays have proved inconclusive but he was yards outside the area when it happened and the linesman was looking right at it so that seemed very harsh. Iain Hume took his frustrations out on the ball with a fierce drive down the middle for a consolation goal.

If you saw a young lady going mental off to the left side of the away end when Hume scored and thought she was perhaps slightly mad or simple, don't worry, that was Charlotte. She backed 3-1 at 33/1 before the match. News followed of the other results, which had all gone our way. The perfect day completed.

Leicester: Henderson 6, Maybury 5, Kenton 6, Kisnorbo 6, Johansson 6,Newton 7, Jarrett 7 (Wesolowski 76, -), Hughes 6 (Tiatto 76, -), Yeates 7,Hume 7, Horsfield 6 (Hammond 62, 6).
Subs Not Used: Logan, Stearman.
Booked: Johansson (handball), Hume (foul).
Goals: Hume 90 pen.

QPR: Camp 8, Mancienne 7, Cullip 7, Stewart 7, Bignot 7,Ainsworth 6 (Smith 88, -), Bolder 8, Idiakez 7 (Lomas 63, 7), Cook 6, Furlong 8 (Ray Jones 84, -), Nygaard 8.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Kanyuka.
Booked: Stewart (foul), Cullip (foul), Furlong (kicking the ball away), Ray Jones (foul).
Goals: Idiakez 47, Nygaard 51 pen, 68.

Attendance: 24,558

QPR Star Man - Marc Nygaard 8 - Much maligned and poor for most of the season to this point he turned in a great performance. Nygaard and Furlong led the line superbly all day, but really started to have an effect when the referee decided to stop penalising them every time they went near the ball. Nygaard takes the award ahead of Furlong for assisting Idiakez's goal, having the guts to take the penalty and scoring it, and his tap in for the third as well. More of the same please. Lee Camp was also brilliant and kept us in the game but Nygaard scored two, made on and worked his arse off so I've gone for him.

Ref: N Swarbrick (Lancashire) 6 - Absolutely terrible in the first half, culminating in the farcical Cullip booking, greatly improved in the second apart from the dodgy late penalty decision, good job that wasn't crucial.

Photo: Action Images

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