The start to the game for QPR could not have been better. A strong run from Helguson was seemingly going nowhere until David Luiz body-checked him to the ground. The fall from Helguson was dramatic, but it was a foul.
Helguson took the penalty. Petr Cech did well to get a hand on the rising ball but in it went, much to the delight of the home support.
Both sides were in competitive mood, not wanting to give an inch in a local derby with most attempts at goal long range or half-chances at best, but it did not dampen the noisy atmosphere at Loftus Road.
A through ball from Taarabt just after half an hour provided an opening for Shaun Wright-Phillips, who set off in a foot race with Bosingwa, only to be brought down as he approached the penalty box. Referee Chris Foy didn’t hesitate to show him a red card.
Chelsea players protested as they felt cover was sufficient to rule out Bosingwa being the last man, but the decision had been made and we were down to 10 men. Taarabt took the resulting free kick but it failed to trouble Cech.
Sturridge, who had looked good to this point, was substituted as AVB brought on Branislav Ivanovic to rearrange to account for the loss of Bosingwa.
With the half coming to an end, matters got a whole lot worse for us as a two-footed lunge from Drogba reduced us to nine.
Another enforced substitution followed with Juan Mata, who had earlier taken a nasty tumble, being replaced with Nicolas Anelka as we frantically tried to reorganise.
As the match entered the second half we should have been on the back foot. But down to nine men and with one goal down, we dominated and could have equalised when Ivanovic, who was brilliant throughout, played a great cross for Anelka to head straight at Paddy Kenny. Frank Lampard kicked the post in frustration.
QPR had their chances, but we can hold our heads held high for outplaying our rivals with only 9 men.
One wonders what the score line would have been if all 11 had stayed.
We received seven bookings during the game, but Villas-Boas refused to criticise his players, focusing instead on the positive performance that fell just short of earning a draw.
‘I am very proud of the team,’ said the 34-year-old. ‘I don’t have a problem with discipline; I have a problem with referees applying discipline. Penalties can be given or not given, but if he gives a soft penalty like that he has to give soft penalties in the box in our chances on the opposite side as well. I don’t know what the difference is.
‘If you give a penalty like that, if there is a shove or something like that, he has to concede a lot in the opposite box, so there is a difference of criteria there which doesn’t make us happy. The judgment used was not the same.
The manager explained that he had spoken to Mr Foy after the game.
‘I was aggressive to him but I think I have to be,’ he said. I don’t care if he is okay or not, everybody can have a bad day, but this was not a bad day for us, it was a good day for us but it was a bad day for the referee.
Gill Reeves – CSG disabled rep.
• 01 Kenny
• 03 Hill
• 05 Hall
• 18 Young
• 35 Ferdinand
• 04 Derry – yellow card (Mackie 81)
• 07 Taarabt (Smith 61)
• 11 Faurlin
• 17 Barton – yellow card
• 32 Wright-Phillips
• 22 Helguson
• 26 Murphy,
• 02 Orr,
• 14 Buzsaky,
• 42 Puncheon,
• 10 Bothroyd,
• 12 Mackie,
• 21 Smith
• 01 Cech
• 03 Cole – yellow card
• 04 David Luiz – yellow card
• 17 Bosingwa – red card
• 26 Terry – yellow card
• 08 Lampard – yellow card
• 12 Mikel – yellow card
• 16 Meireles – yellow card (Malouda 72)
• 10 Mata (Anelka 45+1)
• 11 Drogba – red card
• 23 Sturridge (Ivanovic 36 – yellow card)
• 22 Turnbull,
• 02 Ivanovic,
• 06 Romeu,
• 15 Malouda,
• 20 McEachran,
• 21 Kalou,
• 39 Anelka