QPR 0 Saints 3

WINNING START: Saints debutant Jason Euell.

WINNING START: Saints debutant Jason Euell.

First published in 07-08 Season Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Writer

WHEN a manager says after a game their team could have hit double figures, you normally have to take it with a pinch of salt.

When George Burley said it after the win over QPR, he couldn't have been more right.

On another day Saints could have racked up a massive score.

They created chance after chance after chance.

In fact, if you were being hyper critical, you could say they should have scored more in case the goal difference ends up being important.

But to do that would take away from a very good result and, more than that, a wonderful performance from Burley's side.

Excellent performance from Saints who could have racked up a huge score on an emotional day. The manner in which Saints played was a joy to watch. The squad is looking very strong and full of quality and there is every reason for some optimism.

Adam Leitch

The football they played was a joy to watch.

They zipped the ball around on the deck, got it out wide, hit short passes and looked into the channels. There was pace, there was so much movement off the ball.

It really was terrific stuff.

Before getting too carried with the bucket load of chances the team created, it should also be noted that the defence kept their first clean sheet of the season, in itself a good achievement.

Burley has two good options in both full back positions and the signing of Wayne Thomas has made a world of difference.

He's strong and commanding but also good on the ball and Chris Makin did well alongside him, using his years of experience to snuff out the danger whenever it arose.

QPR never really had a chance.

In midfield, Nathan Dyer showed more than just occasional flashes of his potential.

In the first half he was a little guilty of his biggest problem - doing the hard work to get into great positions and then not delivering a good final pass, cross or shot.

But, in the second half, with the third goal which he created he showed that when he gets it right, and he is increasingly getting it right, he's almost unplayable - a left back's nightmare.

Jhon Viafara was the engine room of the team and as combative as ever.

But the player who has made the biggest impact in his own, understated way, has been Youssef Safri.

Burley has pulled a gem out of the bag with this signing.

He is the fulcrum for the team, around which everything happens.

He doesn't move very far, just sitting in front of the back four ensuring not much gets through.

He gets the ball and he gives it and he just doesn't concede possession - his pass success rate must be frightening.

It may not be the most glamourous position on the pitch, but Safri is a terrific player to watch.

Up front we know there are goals and when you look at the squad after the close of the transfer window it is strong.

It is still a centre half light but, other than that, there is quality and competition in every area.

On this showing, what a few weeks ago was looking a forlorn season could provide something special.

Early days for sure but the signs are there - and they are crystal clear.

This is a good team and a good squad Burley has put together. He's really pulled it out.

The start of the game at Loftus Road was overshadowed by the tributes to Ray Jones, the teenage QPR striker who died the week before.

You would had to have had a heart of stone not to be moved by the sight of his family on the pitch before the start of the game.

But, once the whistle went, there was a job to be done.

For all their wonderful football, Saints' opener was as direct as they come. Safri whipped in a far post corner which Grzegorz Rasiak aggressively powered home with his head at the far post.

The second came in the last seconds of the first half.

Dyer found Safri, who fed Viafara, and he galloped half the length of the pitch before being crudely hacked down on the edge of the area by keeper Lee Camp.

The referee played a great advantage and allowed Rasiak to slide in and put the ball into a empty net.

He then used his commonsense by booking Camp when he could easily have sent him off.

It was 3-0 five minutes after the re-start when Dyer knocked the ball round his man, used his pace to get to the by-line and whipped in a beautiful cross which Bradley Wright-Phillips headed in from inside the six-yard box.

Of the other good chances, Camp saved from Wayne Thomas, Wright-Phillips (twice), Andrew Surman and Rasiak.

Rasiak and Stern John had efforts cleared off the line and the same pair both went close again.

In the end, they were immaterial.

It was a great three points ... even if Saints didn't quite manage double figures.

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