Premier League: Aston Villa 3 QPR 2
By Football News
A late goal from Christian Benteke secured a vital three points for Aston Villa in a thrilling relegation clash with QPR.
QPR were in charge for most of the first half and made their dominance count when Jermaine Jenas poked the away side into the lead after 22 minutes.
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 came on after 66 minutes, fought their way back and Andros Townsend equalised with 15 minutes left.
But Villa kept on fighting and Benteke steered home the winner 10 minutes from time.
Villa started the stronger of the two sides, 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 centre 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 net.
Despite their dominance, QPR lost their lead on the stroke of half time 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.
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.
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 defence.
The QPR pressure culminated in their equaliser 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 Villa refused to give up and Benteke scored the all-important winner with 10 minutes to go.
Weimann rushed into the box and forced out Cesar, playing the ball past the Brazilian and back into the path of the Belgian striker who coolly put away the winner.