A late goal from Christian Benteke secured up a hugely important 3-2 win for Aston Villa and put an end to a truly thrilling Premier League relegation clash against QPR at Villa Park. Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter
QPR bossed possession for the vast majority of the first half and made their dominance count when Jermaine Jenas poked the away side into the lead with 22 minutes played.
But a late header against the run of play from Gabriel Agbonlahor in the final moments of the first half made the scores level, and Villa went ahead 14 minutes into the second half through Andreas Weimann.
QPR, given new life after Adel Taarabt entered the field of play after 66 minutes, fought their way back and Andros Townsend fired in an equalizer of their own with little over quarter-of-an-hour to play.
But Villa kept on fighting and Benteke steered the winner into the back of the net with only 10 minutes left to play.
Clearly encouraged by its victory over fellow relegation candidate Reading last weekend, Aston Villa arguably started the stronger of the two sides, keeping hold of good possession in the opening 10 minutes.
But the tables turned quickly and it was QPR who had the best opportunity to go ahead early on when Brad Guzan pulled off two world-class saves to deny Christopher Samba in the space of a minute. The American first saved a dipping header from the Congolese defender and then acrobatically kept out Samba's shot from the edge of the penalty area just moments later.
However, Guzan was unable to stop Jenas from putting the away side ahead after 22 minutes when poor passing from Aston Villa in the center of the field resulted in Bobby Zamora breaking away and forcing Guzan into saving his shot, allowing Jenas to slide in and poke the ball into the back of the empty net.
The home side, hanging on for its life, could have gone two or three goals down before halftime through great chances from Zamora, Loic Remy and a free kick effort that hit the post from Jose Bosingwa, but Guzan, ever the savior for Villa, was on hand to keep out the constant QPR attacking onslaught.
Despite their dominance, QPR lost their lead on the stroke of halftime when Matthew Lowton crossed in to Agbonlahor to head past a stationary Cesar. The Brazilian goalkeeper had little, if anything, to do all half up until the goal but let his concentration slip when it was most needed.
Clearly spurred on by Agbonlahor's late equalizer in the first half, Aston Villa went 2-1 up just before the hour mark after QPR failed to clear a corner, allowing Weimann to turn inside the QPR box and fire low past Cesar.
Clearly frustrated by his attacking options, Redknapp took off Fabio and replaced him with the ever-threatening Taarabt, and the Moroccan immediately made an impact, putting plenty of pressure on the Villa defense.
The QPR pressure culminated in their equalizer with 73 minutes played after great build-up play led the ball to Townsend just outside the penalty area, the on-loan winger's shot finding its way past Guzan thanks to a wicked deflection.
But Aston Villa refused to give up and Benteke scored the all-important winner with 10 minutes to go after Weimann rushed into the box and forced out Cesar, playing the ball horizontally past the Brazilian and back into the path of the Belgian striker who coolly put away the winning goal.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Aston Villa
- Gabriel Agbonlahor
- Jermaine Jenas
- Brad Guzan