United recover to send Redknapp's QPR reeling

LONDON Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:13am IST

Manchester United's Darren Fletcher (3rd R) heads the ball to score his sides second goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England November 24, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Manchester United's Darren Fletcher (3rd R) heads the ball to score his sides second goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England November 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United scored three times in eight minutes to win 3-1 against Premier League bottom side Queens Park Rangers, who were watched by new manager Harry Redknapp, and move back to the top of the table on Saturday.

QPR, who announced earlier on Saturday that Redknapp was taking over after Mark Hughes had been fired the previous day, took the lead in the driving rain at Old Trafford with a 52nd-minute Jamie Mackie tap-in.

But United, playing far better after a pedestrian opening 45 minutes, left QPR reeling as goals from Jonny Evans - on his 100th league appearance - Darren Fletcher and substitute Javier Hernandez secured their sixth comeback win in the league this season.

Rangers, now without a win in 13 league matches, stay bottom on four points but, with caretakers Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki in charge, they impressed for an hour and played far better than they did under Hughes who paid the price with his job.

United moved on to 30 points, two clear of champions Manchester City who can regain top spot if they win at fourth-placed Chelsea (24) on Sunday.

Surprise package West Bromwich Albion moved two points clear of Chelsea into third place with a 4-2 victory at Sunderland to record their fourth successive league win, giving them their best start to a season since 1953-54.

Fifth-placed Everton were minutes away from beating Norwich City but had to settle for a 1-1 draw after a late Sebastian Bassong header cancelled out Steven Naismith's early opener.

Wigan Athletic beat fellow strugglers Reading 3-2 with a second-half hat-trick from Jordi Gomez and Stoke City edged Fulham 1-0 with a first-half goal from Charlie Adam.

FERGUSON IMPRESSED

United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports he was impressed with the way QPR played but always thought his side would win.

"As so often happens when there's a change of manager, they were very determined and worked hard and put in some good counter-attacking play and I thought we were too lethargic in the first half, in particular," he said.

"But when we scored, after Anderson came on, we came to life. Maybe the rain falling so heavily slowed us down a bit, but we are better than that.

"But Harry being here had an effect on the way they played. It's obvious you change your manager and you get a couple of results, and they came close today, but once we started playing, there was no question about who was going to win."

Redknapp, who has agreed a 2-1/2 year deal with Rangers, will take control for the first time against Sunderland on Tuesday aiming to deny the north-east club a second win in west London in just over a week after they beat Fulham last weekend.

Sunderland were well beaten on Saturday though, losing 4-2 at home to a very assured West Brom, who will end the weekend in a Champions League spot if Chelsea fail to beat City on Sunday.

West Brom dominated at the Stadium of Light, scoring twice before halftime through Zoltan Gera and Shane Long, and adding two more after it, with Romelu Lukaku scoring from a penalty and Marc-Antoine Fortune scoring with the last kick of the game.

Sunderland's goals came from Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon. While West Brom climbed to third, Sunderland stayed close to the relegation zone, with 12 points from 12 matches.

"I thought we passed the ball brilliantly and managed to pick them off. To score four goals against any team is a great performance," West Brom coach Steve Clarke told the BBC.

"The players deserve all the credit, they've worked really hard; people have had to sit up and take notice and the Albion fans can enjoy this spell."

Although the Baggies are on course for European soccer next season, Clarke was keeping their achievements in perspective.

"To talk about European football at this stage would be folly, there are a lot of games to go so we'll keep our feet on the ground," he said.

The last time West Brom made such a good start to a league campaign they finished runners-up in the old First Division to their arch-rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and won the FA Cup, beating Preston North End in the final.

(Editing by Alison Wildey and Ken Ferris)

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