By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Queens Park Rangers’ chances at staying in the Premier League took another blow Monday as the club fell 3-2 at West London rival Fulham.
Tenth-place Fulham’s fans chanted “going down” at QPR after Dimitar Berbatov scored twice in the opening 22 minutes of the match. January QPR transfer Christopher Samba was to blame for both of Berbatov’s goals, an 8th-minute penalty and a 22nd-minute strike following a bad giveaway by the former Anzhi defender.
Things looked bleak for the visitors after Clint Hill put a Fulham cross into his own net, but Adel Taraabt kept the Rangers alive with a goal in the 45th minute. QPR went on the offensive right out of the break. Loic Remy saw his penalty kick denied by Mark Schwarzer four minutes into the second half, but the French international redeemed himself with a thunderous goal two minutes later.
But QPR was unable to net an equalizer in the final 40 minutes, even after a Steve Sidwell red card put even more pressure on the Fulham defense. Remy missed two open chances at securing his 19th-place club a point in the final moments of the match. QPR remain seven points from escaping the drop zone with seven matches left.
Here are some more stories to wrap up your Monday:
VILANOVA TO RETURN TO BARCELONA BENCH TUESDAY VS. PSG
Barcelona assistant Jordi Roura confirmed Monday that manager Tito Vilanova will be on the bench for Tuesday’s Champions League match at Paris Saint-Germain.
“He will be with us on the bench tomorrow, and all of Barcelona is happy to have him,” Roura said during Monday’s pre-match press conference.
Vilanova returned to the club last week after a 10-week stay in New York to treat a throat tumor. He was in charge at training on Friday and Sunday, but he was not on the bench during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo.
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta called Vilanova’s return to the club “the return to normality.”
“That Tito is with us is a good sign, without doubt,” Zubizaretta told reporters before the club left for Paris. “He’s well and therefore he’s traveling.”
SUNDERLAND, DI CANIO RESPOND TO CONTROVERSY
One day after hiring Paolo Di Canio as manager, Sunderland have had to respond to claims that the new hire has racist and fascist sympathies.
“To accuse [Di Canio] now, as some have done, of being a racist or having fascist sympathies is insulting not only to him but to the integrity of this football club,” Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne said Monday.
Di Canio came under fire after Football Against Racism in Europe director Piara Powar told reporters that the former Swindon Town manager would have to clarify comments he made to an Italian news agency in 2005. Di Canio told the agency that he was “a fascist, not a racist.”
Sunderland vice-chairman and former UK foreign secretary David Miliband immediately resigned from the club’s board of directors after Di Canio was hired on Sunday, pointing to his “past political statements.”
Di Canio told Sunderland’s team website that any claims suggesting he is racist are “absolutely stupid.”
“The people who know me can change that idea quickly,” Di Canio said. “When I was in England, my best friends were Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, the Charlton manager—they can tell you everything about my character.”
Sunderland said neither they nor Di Canio would be making any further comments following Monday’s statements.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez told reporters that Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole will be out for at least two weeks. (REPORT)
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelafi says that manager Carlo Ancelotti will be staying with the club and he is open to contract talks with David Beckham. (REPORT)
Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney, who missed Monday’s FA Cup loss at Chelsea with a groin injury, will hopefully be back for next week’s Manchester Derby. (REPORT)
Neil Warnock has officially parted ways with Championship side Leeds United, which has lost its last three league matches. (REPORT)
Former Brazilian international and current congressman Romario is publicly calling for the resignation of national football federation president Jose Maria Marin. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you think this loss kills QPR’s chance at staying up? How do you think Vilanova’s return will affect Barcelona on Tuesday? What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding Di Canio and Sunderland?
Share your thoughts below.