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QPR 2-2 Everton
(QPR win 8-7 on penalties)
by James Nalton
WHEN changes to the football calendar are proposed, usually because Fifa or Uefa are looking to make extra money from their tournaments, the first English competition put forward to be binned is the League Cup.
Tuesday night’s game between Everton and Queens Park Rangers made a good case for it to remain.
QPR eventually went through on penalties, taken in front of 2,500 Everton fans at the School End, which somewhat eliminated any home advantage.
The rest of the stadium more than made up for it, though, and celebrated wildly following Jimmy Dunne’s winning kick.
Charlie Austin opened the scoring, giving the hosts a deserved lead. Lucas Digne equalised for Everton but just four minutes later Austin headed QPR ahead for a second time.
Mark Warburton’s side were winning the midfield battle, with Dominic Ball, Andre Dozzell and the slightly more attacking Ilias Chair working their way around Everton’s central pair Tom Davies and Andre Gomes.
But despite this, Seny Dieng needed to save well from Alex Iwobi to keep his side ahead at half-time.
The visitors were stronger in the second half and equalised again through Andros Townsend, but neither side could find the winner in this even game as the Championship side more than held their own against Premier League opposition.
The League Cup is always a test of squad depth for Premier League clubs and the chance for a mixture of reserve and youth players to show they are deserving of a place in the first team.
Clubs lower down the leagues can use a similar approach, or they can try to take advantage of what might be a slightly weakened opposition side in an attempt to progress in the cup.
QPR’s plan edged towards the latter, though the Everton team they faced was also reasonably strong.
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison still injured, Rafa Benitez picked six of the players who started the 3-0 Premier League defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday.
But it still wasn’t enough for them to overcome the West London side, who were impressive on the night.
The penalty shoot out was eventually won 8-7 when Tom Davies became the only player to miss his spot-kick before Dunne sent the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium into raptures.
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