Liverpool will have no Champions League worries next season as the Carling Cup winners managed to earn a defeat from the jaws of victory at Loftus Road on Wednesday night.
Having been good value for their 0-2 lead; the Reds contrived to concede three goals in the last 12 minutes as QPR came back from the dead with a result that has massive implications at the foot of the table.
Whatever lingering hopes Liverpool had of Champions League qualification are now over as they slip 12 points off fourth place with nine games remaining and, much to Alan Hansen’s chagrin, his old club appear at the moment to be what he would least want them to be; a cup team. The FA Cup is now the only competition they still have a chance of winning this season and given the length of time it is since Liverpool were last challenging for the title; ‘cup team’ appears to be an accurate moniker for English football’s (joint) winningest cup team.
Aside from QPR’s late smash-and-grab win; the game will mainly be remembered for Liverpool centre-half Sebastián Coate’s incredible flying volley to put his one-nil up on the night. Of course; QPR’s relegation rivals might also remember Wednesday night as the night that opened a gaping chasm between them and Premier League survival. At the start of play; Wigan and Wolves were one point from safety. Following QPR’s win; the two W clubs are now three points adrift. When goal difference is taken into consideration; this is in reality a four point margin; a big gap at this stage of the season and a gap which will only be arrested with W’s – something neither Wolves or Wigan have managed for 11 games between them.
Whilst Bolton are also in trouble at the bottom; they have a game in hand and have a decent chance of catching QPR from effectively three points adrift, though the confidence gained from beating a side like Liverpool will be immeasurable for the Loftus Road outfit as they enter the closing stages of the season.