Sunderland limp to goalless draw with QPR

SUNDERLAND'S Carlos Cuellar tackles QPR's Clint  Hill

SUNDERLAND'S Carlos Cuellar tackles QPR's Clint Hill

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SUNDERLAND fluffed the opportunity to record their first Stadium of Light victory since September after they could only manage a sorry stalemate with basement boys QPR.

The Black Cats fell back into the limp attacking habits which have plagued them this season against a well-drilled QPR side, buoyed by the arrival of new boss Harry Redknapp.

Steven Fletcher twice went close for the hosts, forcing good saves out of QPR stopper Julio Cesar and his half-time replacement Rob Green.

But QPR were good value for a point and had several opportunities of their own, particularly in the first half, with Djibril Cisse, Jamie Mackie and Adel Taarabt all going close.

Lee Cattermole made a miraculous recovery from a knee injury to keep his place in Sunderland’s starting XI after limping off in the first half of Saturday’s defeat to West Brom.

Cattermole lined up in central midfield alongside Craig Gardner, with Jack Colback relegated to the bench.

Sunderland’s other change was a first Premier League start of the season for Matt Kilgallon after John O’Shea was ruled out with a calf problem.

Redknapp made three changes for his first game in charge, with Samba Diakite, Esteban Granero and Jose Bosingwa all included.

Former Sunderland hitman Djibril Cisse had a clear opening to break the deadlock inside the first three minutes after Adel Taarabt curled in a raking cross to the far post from the right.

Cisse had found space from six yards out, but could only connect with a weak header which bounced into the ground and straight into the arms of Simon Mignolet.

Two minutes later, Gardner unleashed a free-kick from 25 yards just wide of the post.

But Sunderland were forced into an early change in the seventh minute after Cattermole failed to shake off the blow from a second minute challenge on Stephane Mbia – the gamble over the skipper’s fitness unable to reap any rewards.

Cisse went close again in the 12th minute when his scuffed shot from the edge of the area skidded off the turf and needed to be pushed around the post by Mignolet.

Carlos Cuellar saw his glancing header from Adam Johnson’s free-kick tipped over the top by Julio Cesar five minutes later, although the ball looked to be heading over anyway.

Moments later, Cisse gave Sunderland yet another scare when he was given room 25 yards out and let fly with a right-footed drive which drifted inches wide.

Sunderland somehow managed to avoid falling behind in the 37th minute after QPR had successive chances in a matter of seconds.

Adel Taarabt burst through the challenge of Seb Larsson and Danny Rose and threaded the ball down the inside right channel for Jamie Mackie.

The Scot’s shot from the angle was blocked by Mignolet after the Belgian raced off his line, but the rebound fell straight to Taarabt.

The Moroccan couldn’t muster sufficient power on his shot though and it was blocked on the line by Phil Bardsley before Sunderland eventually cleared their lines.

Sunderland carved out a clear-cut opportunity of their own moments later when Johnson fed Fletcher to the left of goal, 12 yards out.

Fletcher made contact with his left-foot shot, but it was too close to Cesar, who blocked well.

QPR had another opportunity on the stroke of half-time, but Nelson could only send his header straight at Mignolet from eight yards after meeting Taarabt’s corner from the left.

HALF-TIME: Sunderland 0 QPR 0

QPR made a half-time change, with England keeper Robert Green replacing the injured Cesar.

The visitors had an opportunity four minutes into the second half, but Granero could only head harmlessly straight at Mignolet from Taarabt’s searching cross from the left.

Stephane Mbia tried his luck in the 58th minute with a low drive from 25 yards which raced just past the post.

A superb stop from Green denied Sunderland the lead in the 64th minute after Fletcher met Larsson’s corner from the left with a powerful downward header.

Green just managed to readjust his feet and block low to his left before gathering up the rebound.

QPR almost nicked it with two minutes to go when they broke at pace and Mackie fed substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips with his back to goal, eight yards out.

Wright-Phillips hit a low shot on the turn which Mignolet managed to block with his legs.

FULL-TIME Sunderland 0 QPR 0

SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Bardsley, Kilgallon, Cuellar, Rose, Larsson, Cattermole (Colback 7), Gardner (Saha 78), Johnson (McClean 70), Sessegnon, Fletcher. Subs not used: Campbell, Vaughan, Bramble, Westwood. Booked: Cuellar (50)

QPR: Cesar (Green 46), Bosingwa, Nelsen, Hill, Traore, Mbia, Diakite (Park 65), Granero, Taarabt (Wright-Phillips 77), Mackie, Cisse. Subs not used: Derry, Ferdinand, Fabio, Hoilett. Booked: Diakite (55), Hill (68), Mackie (81)

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Attendance: 36,513