Ross Barkley’s ‘individual magic’ fires Everton over hapless QPR
Ross Barkley produced a sublime solo strike as Everton cruised to a 3-1 win over struggling Queens Park Rangers at Goodison Park on Monday.
Barkley’s first goal of an injury-hit campaign was well worth the wait as the England midfielder broke the deadlock with a 20-yard thunderbolt after a driving run from inside his own half.
The 21-year-old’s moment of magic once again prompted comparisons with former England great Paul Gascoigne and proved the catalyst for Roberto Martinez’s side to secure their first win in four Premier League matches.
Kevin Mirallas doubled their lead before half-time and Steven Naismith added the third, with Bobby Zamora’s late goal offering little consolation for outclassed QPR.
Everton had the added pleasure of moving above Merseyside rivals Liverpool into 10th place, while QPR remain in the relegation zone after losing their ninth successive away game in all competitions.
“It was a really important win. In front of goal we were clinical and full of quality,” Martinez said.
“There were pieces of individual magic. The way Ross Barkley opens up the defence and hits that quality of strike is outstanding.”
The only worry for Everton was a late injury to Mirallas that saw the Belgium winger carried off on a stretcher.
“It’s too early to make any sort of assessment of Kevin Mirallas. It’s a bad ankle injury, we will assess in the morning and take it from there,” Martinez added.
Martinez had made three changes from the Everton side beaten by Manchester City, with Naismith back after a hamstring injury and Barkley and Aiden McGeady also starting.
All three switches turned out to be inspired moves by the manager.
Martinez’s side were soon in complete control and Naismith had a half-volley blocked from Seamus Coleman’s cross before Mirallas drove a powerful effort narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area.
Everton’s dominance was finally rewarded in the 33rd minute thanks to Barkley’s brilliance.
Taking possession just inside his own half, Barkley strode forward with pace and purpose and played a one-two with Romelu Lukaku before unleashing a rising left-foot drive that took a slight deflection off QPR’s Mauricio Isla as it rocketed into the roof of Robert Green’s net.
The hosts pressed home their advantage two minutes before half-time when Mirallas whipped in a free-kick that took a huge deflection off Eduardo Vargas’ head and flashed into the far corner past the wrong-footed Green.
McGeady curled a good effort wide just before the interval, but Everton didn’t have to wait long for their third goal as Naismith struck in the 53rd minute.
QPR’s defending was suicidal as Green started a comical sequence by slicing a clearance that barely made it outside his area where Richard Dunne made a hash of controlling the high ball.
When McGeady was eventually played in on the right flank, he was allowed too much time on the ball and curled a cross to the far post, where the unmarked Naismith had acres of space to guide his header past the attempted clearances of Nedum Onuoha and the hapless Dunne on the goalline.
With leading scorer Charlie Austin suspended, QPR had never looked likely to mount a fightback, but they did reduce the deficit in the 80th minute when Zamora tapped in after Tim Howard pushed Jordon Mutch’s shot into his path.
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Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM