Aston Villa 3 QPR 2 match report: Christian Benteke sends Rangers hurtling towards drop

Villa striker's late winner leaves Redknapp's side seven points
from safety

villa park

Villa Park exploded in celebration at the final whistle yesterday. Paul Lambert, the Aston Villa manager, was out on the pitch embracing his team while Queens Park Rangers players lay sprawled, wondering what might have been.

The visitors had dominated the opening half, and even in the fifth minute of added time so nearly snatched a point as Clint Hill's shot flashed just over the bar.

The margins could not have been more narrow but this archetypal game of two halves had finally swung Villa's way with Christian Benteke's close-range winner after 81 minutes opening precious daylight between Lambert's side and the bottom three.

As against Reading last weekend, Villa had come from behind as they posted successive League victories for the first time since May 2011. It felt like a hugely significant victory, creating a six-point gap between them and 18th-placed Wigan, while keeping QPR bottom.

The pivotal moment of a breathless contest came in first-half injury time when Julio Cesar, the QPR goalkeeper, stood rooted to his line as Matthew Lowton's cross arrived from the right flank and Gabriel Agbonlahor found himself free to nod the ball down into the wet turf and into the net. Up to that point, QPR had controlled the match and deserved to be leading by more than Jermaine Jenas's opening goal.

"If we had come in 4-0 up at half-time it would have been about right," said Harry Redknapp, the Rangers manager. "It was the best I've seen us play in the first half."

QPR had begun confidently with Christopher Samba forcing two fine saves out of Brad Guzan, the home keeper. It was no real surprise when Jenas then struck against his old club midway through the half, and nor was it a surprise that the goal followed a Villa mistake.

The average age of Lambert's starting XI was 23, and for the third match running one of their young defenders was culpable for an opposition goal. Joe Bennett, who had replaced the injured Nathan Baker, delivered a loose pass in the middle of the pitch which was picked up by Jenas. The January signing from Tottenham played in Bobby Zamora for a low shot, and although Guzan saved, Jenas followed up to turn in the rebound.

It was all QPR. Andros Townsend took out four Villa players with a crossfield run before shooting over, Guzan tipped over Loïc Rémy's dipping strike, and then Jose Bosingwa's free-kick struck a post. "Some of those saves were outstanding," said Lambert, who also had the highest praise the "phenomenal" forward Andreas Weimann, a key figure in Villa's second-half resurgence.

He had already seen one headed attempt turned over by Cesar when he put Villa in front on 59 minutes. When Park Ji-Sung cleared a Villa corner, Bennett recycled the ball and fed Weimann with his back to goal inside the Rangers box. The Austrian turned magnificently to create the space for a shot and he drove in hard and low, Cesar getting a hand to the ball in vain.

It did not help Rangers that they had lost Zamora, the focal point of their attack, at half-time – "a blow" for Redknapp, who explained that the striker had not trained all week because of flu – but the visitors showed the spirit to respond as Townsend, just like Jenas, struck his second goal in as many games.

Rémy and Park worked an opening for the Tottenham loanee and his low strike took a deflection and bounced away from Guzan into the bottom corner.

It looked a deserved point given Rangers' first-half superiority, but there was still one final twist to come as substitute Charles N'Zogbia scooped the ball between two QPR defenders and Weimann broke into the six-yard box and cut the ball back for Benteke to drill in Villa's third.

"The last goal was a poor goal," said Redknapp. Yet if this match was further evidence of the low defensive standards which have cost English teams in the Champions' League this season, it still made for utterly compelling viewing.

The result was a big step for Villa, who now have momentum for the survival fight, according to Lambert. "There are still eight games to go but after what we've done here we have momentum. We have a really tough game against Liverpool next, but the crowd are really behind us."

As for QPR, they somehow ended the day seven points from safety on 23 points, and, by Redknapp's estimation, need four wins and two draws from their remaining eight fixtures. "We have to keep going, it is going to be hard, but if we keep playing well we can win four or five games," he added, still wondering how this one had got away.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments