Austin strikes to give Redknapp breathing space

AFP
Queens Park Rangers' English manager Harry Redknapp gestures during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers at White Hart Lane in north London on August 24, 2014
Queens Park Rangers' English manager Harry Redknapp gestures during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers at White Hart Lane in north London on August 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/Olly Greenwood)

London (AFP) - The pressure eased on Harry Redknapp on Saturday as a Charlie Austin goal gave his Queen's Park Rangers side their first points of the season with a 1-0 win over Sunderland.

Two defeats in the league -- including a 4-0 thrashing by Redknapp's former club Tottenham Hotspur last weekend -- and a humiliating exit to fourth-tier Burton Albion in the League Cup in midweek had made it a difficult start to the season for Redknapp and his men.

However, victory -- ironically their first in the top flight since a 3-1 win against the same opponents in March 2013 -- sees them shoot provisionally up to 12th in the table, a point above Manchester United, while Sunderland remain on two points.

Austin, outstanding for QPR in the Championship last season, struck on the stroke of half-time after being set up by Dutchman Leroy Fer to break his side's goal duck for the campaign.

His strike rounded off a period of intense pressure by QPR, who had gone close through the impressive Fer, who rattled the crossbar with a ripper of a long-range effort on the half-hour mark. while Junior Hoilett had been denied by Vito Mannone shortly before that.

Austin had gone close to breaking the deadlock in the opening minutes but his header had been cleared off the line by the visitors' Connor Wickham.

At the other end, Sunderland's Patrick van Aanholt went close and Adam Johnson's perceptive through ball set up Steven Fletcher, who was denied by former England goalkeeper Robert Green.

The second half failed to match the intensity of the first period, as Austin, who had only just returned from a hamstring injury, was taken off the field to a standing ovation.

There was still time for QPR to put an end to Sunderland's hopes definitively but Armand Traore ruined the good work he put in to get past the defence when he sent his shot wide of the post.

He was nearly punished for that on the stroke of full time when substitute Emanuele Giaccherini unleashed a scorcher of a shot but Green produced a stunning save to deny him.