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Masked menace breaks QPR hearts as Chelsea edge closer to title

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Can you bottle frustration? Can you ferment it? Can you then take the resulting brew and dump it over someone else's head and dance in their faces? If you're Cesc Fabregas and Chelsea, you certainly can.

For the best part of 87 minutes, it looked as though the Blues would be going back to Stamford Bridge with their noses bloodied and their lead atop the table cut to just five points. They were sloppy and slow, both of action and of thought and without the spark provided by either Loïc Rémy or Diego Costa never looked much like scoring. Not being able to score makes winning football matches slightly challenging.

Chelsea's attacking 'problems' are overstated whenever the team struggles to create -- remember that they've managed to score in all but one of their [looks at schedule] many matches this season, a 0-0 draw away at Sunderland. But at Loftus Road, where the Blues hadn't scored a league goal since before Izzy Brown was born, we were truly diabolical. Our attacks seemed more dangerous to our own defence than the opposition, with QPR peppering the defence with raking passes and looking truly menacing on the counterattack.

But to blame the attack for the poor play -- at least Willian managed to hit the post early on, if only by accident -- would be churlish when the midfield was busy eclipsing them. The trio of Nemanja Matic, Ramires and Cesc Fabregas looked as though they were perfect strangers, and they spent much of the game outdoing one another in comical errors. If not for the goal, the enduring memory of the match would be Fabregas and Matic tackling each other and handing the ball straight to Charlie Austin in our own defensive third.

Thibaut Courtois, meanwhile, stung after conceding a 65-yarder last weekend, played flawlessly despite taking a battering from QPR's thumpers. He stamped his authority on every attempted cross, and produced fine saves from both Austin and Matthew Phillips to keep the Blues in the match.

Knowing what was at stake and watching the match play out as it was was painful. Granted, we looked a little better after Oscar came in for Ramires, but it was hardly good. Time was bleeding away, and everyone was doing their own mental calculus on where a collapse was possible. It couldn't happen, surely ... but two points dropped at Loftus Road might lead down some very bad roads, and those potential futures were dancing in our faces.

This was the picture, then, as we headed into the dying moments of the game, which had so far been a bitter alchemy of incompetence and doubt. But as we all know, the happiest endings come after immense struggle. Chelsea had mostly been fighting themselves, sure, but that didn't make the goal any less sweet.

Eden Hazard broke the lines, picking up a poor goal kick from Rob Green before crashing his way down the left and using Oscar to enter the area. The Belgian looked up, spotted a masked marauder making a late run into the box, and pulled the ball back for Fabregas, bruised, battered and in partial disguise after being Charlie Adamed against stoke, to fire first-time into the bottom corner. It was Chelsea's first shot on target all match, and it couldn't have been any more perfect.

Breaking QPR hearts is always great fun, but that Arsenal's hopes were growing in direct relation to our annoyance, only for them to be punctured by their former pride and joy ... well, it doesn't get any better than that. Rui Faria certainly didn't think so.

After the goal, a tired Didier Drogba took a nap in the centre circle for a few minutes. It'd be difficult to argue that the Ivorian himself had earned it after a stuttering display, but the job had been done regardless. Twelve points to go.

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