Roberto Martinez goes back to the formula that was so successful against Newcastle last weekend, restoring Arouna Kone, Leon Osman and Darron Gibson to the line-up and deploying Aaron Lennon wide on the right.
At the back, John Stones comes back into the side in place of Antolin Alcaraz who drops to the bench along with Steven Naismith and Ross Barkley.
QPR kicked off with Everton playing in all black, hopefully not too much in mourning for the dreadful Kapitulation in Kyiv, as the bright Springtime sunlight of Loftus Road. No real shape to the play, until a rollout from Howard to McCarthy immediately saw pressure and a poor forced clearance to Barton and QPR were sniffing out a shot on goal. Crazy nonsense play from Everton.
Another was to follow as a severe warning, Barton heading on to Zamora who clipped over with only Howard to beat... but he was offside.
Everton mounted their first real attack, McCarthy blocked firmly as he set to shoot in after Lennon's cutback to Lukaku. From the corner, a brilliant nearpost flick from Osman that deserved a goal, such was it'sf delightful invention. But Zamora was a constant danger at the other end, getting behind the Blues line again, but offside.
All the early impetus was with QPR, encouraging some brilliant defending by Stones who had his work cut out to keep the striker in his pocket. What a tremendous young player he is becoming. Gibson tried to play in a good forward ball to Lukaku but it did not come off, but Everton were otherwise struggling to get out of their half.
But an exceptional move of brilliant forward-playing passing football at pace, involving Kone, Osman, Lennon, and Coleman saw the Irishman fire Everton in front with a great shot in off the far post, a very nicely constructed goal!
QPR were still getting into the danger area all too easily, and Everton were riding their luck somewhat at the back as the ball was generally running in their favour. But a route one clearance flicked on by Lukaku to Kone got the Blues forward at pace again, only for Barton to throw himself at Gibson's drive to deny a goal attempt, perhaps illegally with a raised arm, but at very close range.
Everton, though, were looking lively on the counter, with Kone, Lukaku and Lennon enjoying some space to run at the QPR defence... perhaps too much in Lennon's case, as he ran miles offside.
At the other end, Austin sent in a fantastic cross for Zamora to score... but the glance he got on the ball was nowhere near enough to put the ball on target, thankfully! But the fear and trepidation in the Everton defence was all too palpable and an equalizer seemed to be on the cards.
Everton did finally put together a better sequence of forward play, applying some pressure on their hosts, without constructing a real chance to test Green. When Everton did get the chance to break again, Kone was far too hesitant and the chance for a break evaporated. Hoilett saw yellow for a 50-50 clash with Lennon.
Apart from the goal, it had been a pretty scrappy first half, Everton nervously unable to control the game despite taking the lead. and having to repeatedly pull out the stops at the back to keep Howard's sheet clean.
After the break, QPR get forward quickly, Hoilett beating Howard with a tremendous shot but hitting the bar, Phillips heading the rebound goalwards, Jagileka getting back brilliantly to block off the line but the flag was up for offside as QPR followed up to score, only for the play to be called back. What a let-off for the Blues. Phillips was only very marginally offside...
QPR continued to press for a goal to level the game as the Everton defence lived on its wits, having to react by scrambling the ball away time and again. Kone did get the ball forward to Lukaku and Osman could have done better but Isla did well to get his foot on the ball and prevent any shot from an excellent forward position.
Yun got booked for a late tackle on Lennon. Everton constructed a rare attack from the free-kick but Kone's control was not good enough and the move ended with a rather lame shot from Gibson that dribbled wide.
While Everton continued to look shakey at the back, QPR continued to pump balls forward in an effort to exploit the weaknesses so evident last Thursday night. But it seemed to be a question of pride for Stones especially, who had decided They Shall Not Pass. What help would Martinez provide to give the home side more to think about as another determined attack was blocked away by Gibson? Barkley perhaps...?
Lukaku was clutching his hamstring, but seemed determined to run it off as another QPR attack develop, with a corner, and finally they did score from a scramble as Everton's massed defence seemed static,.. substitute Vargas lashing in the ball home from close range, ripping into the roof of the net, as Lukaku limped off, to be replaced by Barkley. Never, in the history of football, had a home-side goal been so on the cards...
Clinging now to a valuable point, Everton won a rare corner that Baines lunched in too low and then got himself offside on the follow-up.
Substitute Henry infuriated the Everton players with a studs-up challenge on Osman, but it won the ball, forcing the Everton player to jump out of the way, and Zamora was off to the races, firing over. QPR kept pushing forward, Everton kept backing off, unable to change the relentless one-way traffic toward their goal.
But another great passing move, literally out of nothing, Kone, Lennon, Gibson, Coleman, Kone, back for Lennon to fire home. Fantastic stuff, such a contrast to the rest of the match! Kone hobbled off after the challenge that stopped him scoring from close range off Coleman's excellent cross.
From an Everton corner, defended away, Tarrabt ran at the Everton defence and fired inches wide, Gibson went down in the play, and looked to be done, but trotted off as Besic readied himself on the sideline. But Gibson came back on and seemed to be moving quite freely.
QPR still pressed, Stones pulling off another incredible block to deny Austin. They were throwing everything forward but the Everton defence were surviving the test so far, and looking to take home a vital 3 points.
In added time, from where Coleman had scored, Tarrabt struck a superb shot that beat Howard but clipped off the bar near the angle, as Everton continued to live very very dangerously but eventually clung on to win. A game of very very close margins that will perhaps relieve the pressure a little on the loquacious Everton manager.
The post-Europa League portion of Everton's season begins this weekend with the trip to West London where Roberto Martinez will be hoping he can lift his disappointed charges to a much-needed victory that would take them one large step closer to Premier League survival.
Defeats for four of the five bottom clubs means that the Blues come into this encounter with the team currently occupying 19th place sitttin six points above the drop zone. A win at Loftus Road would move them to 34 points and, with another eight games to play, easily within reach of banishing fear of relegation.
Having been dumped out a competition they genuinely felt they could win, Everton will be battling the usual European hangover and the potential danger of a lack of drive for this one. Those could be as testing obstacles as any QPR could pose but, with significant revenue at stake with every place they can gain between now and the end of the season, the players need to take their manager's "nine cup finals" mantra to heart.
Martinez will have a similar squad to that he took to Kiev available, with the exception of Gareth Barry who is suspended and Aaron Lennon is eligible to play. Steven Pienaar, Tony Hibbert, Bryan Oviedo and Kevin Mirallas are ruled out through injury but, with 10 full days of recovery unde rhis belt, John Stones should be fit enough to start and Aiden McGeady will also be closer to full fitness after recovering from a knee injury.
The personnel may be more or less the same but how Martinez chooses to line them up will be key. His experiment with two recognised strikers paid dividends against Newcastle last Sunday but his reversion in Kyiv to the less-balanced that has restricted his side's success in the League faltered on a poor defensive display. So, it remains to be seen how adventurous he feels or whether he falls back on the same formation.
It will also be interesting to see whether he responds to questions over why Antolin Alcaraz was preferred to Stones by restoring the 20 year-old to the first-choice spot he has made his own before he came down with a stomach virus before the first leg against Kyiv.
Rangers, managed by interim boss Chris Ramsey following the departure of Harry Redknapp, were hoping to welcome back Joey Barton following s three-match ban but he has picked up a training-ground injury that could keep him out. Mauricio Isla is fit again, though, following a knee problem.
Though sitting five places and nine points worse off than Everton, QPR have won more home games than the Toffees – five to our four – but all were against teams sitting in the bottom seven of the table. They have run Arsenal and Liverpool very close and held Manchester City to a 2-2 draw and have shown that they can score goals.
But their susceptibility to conceding at the other end means that there should be opportunities to exploit for Romelu Lukaku if Everton can get their attacking machine functioning like it did against the Magpies.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2014-15 Reports Index|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Sandro (Henry 71')|
|Zamora (Taarabt 82')|
|Subs not used|
|9||West Ham United||42|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||33|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22|