Southampton beats fellow struggler QPR 3-1 in EPL
By MICHAEL BOTSFORD
LONDON (AP) Southampton won the matchup of the Premier League's bottom two teams, beating Queens Park Rangers 3-1 away on Saturday to increase the pressure on home manager Mark Hughes.
Ricky Lambert opened the scoring for the visitors in the 23rd minute, and Jason Puncheon added the second just before halftime as winless QPR was loudly booed at the break.
QPR got one back through David Hoillett in the 49th, but Southampton sealed the win in the 84th minute when Anton Ferdinand put Morgan Schneiderlin's cross into his own net.
Southampton now has eight points from 12 games, while QPR remains rooted to the bottom with four.
"We've got our first away victory now, there is a belief we can go away and win," Southampton manager Nigel Adkins said. "At Southampton everyone is together as one, they've come a long way in a short space of time."
Things only got worse for Hughes, who was already under fire after the team's poor start. The pressure is only likely to build after failing to even get a point against a team that had lost all its previous away games this season.
Hughes said this was his team's "worst performance so far," and that his players may have been nervous because of the pressure to finally get a win.
"It wasn't the performance we were looking for," Hughes said. "We talked all week about the significance of the game, and perhaps that created some anxiety. All the fundamentals you need to build a performance were not there."
When asked about his future in the job, though, Hughes remained defiant.
"I don't run away from challenges," he said. "This year we had real expectation, I thought we would have a good season, but it hasn't happened unfortunately. The fans are well within their rights to criticize."
The loss means QPR has now played 13 Premier League games in a row without a win, starting last season when Manchester City scored twice in injury time to clinch the title.
Southampton started the game brightest. Adam Lallana volleyed over from outside the area after seven minutes, and Jason Puncheon hit the outside of the post with his cross-shot shortly after.
Southampton went ahead after Puncheon's shot was saved by Julio Cesar, and the ball fell to Lambert who couldn't miss. The second came after Nathaniel Clyne rolled the ball to Puncheon, who turned his defender and hit a low shot into the bottom right corner of Cesar's goal.
QPR started the second half better and got a goal back within minutes as Hoillett headed in Adel Taarabt's cross after Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga didn't come to collect.
Southampton nearly scored again in the 66th when Puncheon's hard shot from outside the area went past the right post.
Djibril Cisse had a chance minutes later on a counterattack when he beat his defender to create the room to shoot, but blasted wide.
Southampton then made the game safe when Schneiderlin crossed the ball into the QPR box and the ball deflected off Ferdinand's foot and beat Cesar at his near post.
Updated November 17, 2012