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Rangers keep their hoop dreams alive

HEAD CASE: City's Pablo Zabaleta (grounded) has an attempt on goal

IF QUEENS Park Rangers are to survive from their relegation scrap, the 0-0 against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at Loftus Road on Tuesday evening will be looked upon as the time when the foundations for victory in the most improbable of dogfights was laid.

This solitary point however keeps Rangers at the foot of the table, but it could prove to be priceless come the end of the season.

The fans had continually chanted his name during the match, but Rangers owner Tony Fernandes could not have expected his expensively assembled side to be battling to avoid relegation so soon after dramatically surviving the drop late last season.

Harry Redknapp has asked for his side to respond to the cause, and in Clint Hill, Shaun Derry, Ryan Nelson and former City player Nedum Onuoha the Rangers' fans saw the spirit and fight so sorely lacking during the last days of the Mark Hughes' regime.

Facing a front line consisting of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, not many gave Rangers much hope, and especially given that the visitors were ably backed up with skills of Samir Nasri, David Silva and the tenacity of James Milner.

Adel Taarabt expressed his desire for the fight with a personal committment to appear for his club over his country Morocco in the African Cup of Nations, and he could so easily prove to be the player to drive Rangers' fortunes forward.

That said, Julio Cesar could also prove to be pivotal in Redknapp's latest Harry Houdini act. The Rangers' keeper may have spilt Silva's early corner, which saw Joleon Lescott hit wildly over the bar from the follow up, but at that stage, you genuinely feared for Rangers and with much justification.

Tevez and Milner worked an opening from the left that fell kindly into Cesar's hands. It was sign of what was to come. With their next sortie, Milner fed Aguero, and with Tevez unmarked Cesar again gathered at his near post.

City's intense pressure finally saw Cesar beaten, but the crossbar was to come to Rangers' rescue after Silva's cross was met by Pablo Zabaleta's header onto the woodwork.

As the half drew to a close, Javi Garcia hit a thunderous 40 yarder, which flew just wide of the upright.

Loic Remy an £8 million capture from Marseille flashed wide to earn a corner off Garcia in a rare Rangers 'first half attack, but the home side should have taken a shock lead just before the break.

Esteban Granero can be unpredictable at the best of times, but his defensive pass found Taraabt surging from deep. Gael Clichy had to race over to the right back position to cover, but Taarabt got his shot away which was on target, but Joe Hart reminded us why he is England's number one, with an excellent low save.

Stephane Mbia remains an enigma, one who is all too capable of the unpredictable, and his untimely slip, let in Gareth Barry, to take a return pass from Tevez, but again Cesar produced a fine save

City continued to search for the opene during the second period, but Rangers' held firm. Silva's frustration was evident when he appeared to kick out at Derry, which was missed by officials.

City boss Roberto Mancini turned to Edin Dzeko to replace the ineffective Nasri, and the Bosnian's cross fell just right for Silva, only for City fans to see Cesar produce another excellent save from the Spain midfielder.

Rangers' only outlet Remy cut a lonely figure, save for the attention of his markers Joleon Lescott and Garcia.Taarabt and Remy seem to have found an early understanding. The former's pass from deep found Rangers' new signing, but with a lot still to do, Remy, shot wide of the target.

Taraabt then produced a moment of skill to beat Tevez, Zableta and Milner, but skied his shot after a deflection for a goal kick.

Redknapp knows his side can scrap with the best, and this point will be crucial to Rangers' survival hopes.

"We defended fantsatically well, another big point for us. Everyone worked, did their jobs, it is a fantastic run we've been on. We're working hard. Look at the quality of the opposition, they've got fantastic players, they've ripped teams home and away. We'll take a point off them.

City may have fallen further behind Manchester United in the title race, but Redknapp still believes that the title race is far from over.

His priority is now a match against Norwich on Saturday. " Norwich is a massive game for us," continued Redknapp.

On the evidence of this display, Rangers could still survive, but Redknapp also knows that games are also running out.

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