Reading 1 Aston Villa 2 match report: Christian Benteke helps Aston Villa breathe life into their survival plan

Paul Lambert's side move out of bottom three with crucial win over fellow strugglers Reading

the madejski stadium

Aston Villa do not usually do comebacks. Their powers of recovery in the Premier League this season had been almost non-existent, with only two points salvaged after they had gone behind. Make that five now, the three gleaned against Reading at the Madejski Stadium yesterday as crucial as any they may muster between now and the end of a miserable campaign.

Watch the highlights of the match here

Winning for only the second time in 12 matches, after trailing 1-0, was important enough. Yet to do it against one of their main rivals for the drop will have done wonders for their self-esteem. That the unthinkable – Villa to be relegated – was becoming highly possible just about sums up a season mostly of woe in the West Midlands.

Villa are not out of it yet. Victory did allow them to climb out of the bottom three but it is little more than a smidgeon of breathing space, a brief respite before another dog-fight beckons against fellow stragglers Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park next Saturday.

"This was a massive game and the players knew that," Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, said. "They knew that the pressure was on them, they didn't need to be told. But some of our football was excellent and we didn't look like a team in a corner, that's for sure."

The pre-match omens had not been good, with neither team in great form. It was a recipe for a nerve-ridden encounter and so it proved. Few players showed any confidence on the ball; a few barely seemed to want it. It made for grim viewing but at least contained enough incidents to maintain the interest of the neutral. Brad Guzan, the Villa goalkeeper, made a spectacular early save to keep out an Adam Le Fondre header and Christian Benteke thumped a header against the home crossbar.

Andreas Weimann shot wide and the catalogue of mistakes continued unabated, culminating in Reading going ahead. Jobi McAnuff's cross was miscued by Hope Akpan and the hapless Nathan Baker sliced the ball into his own net.

Reading's joy barely lasted a minute. Weimann cut in from the right and fed Benteke, whose close-range effort took a generous deflection off Stephen Kelly and wrong-footed Stuart Taylor, the Reading keeper. It was Benteke's 16th goal of the season and, thus, Villa became the eighth club to amass 1,000 Premier League goals.

It was not long before 1,001 arrived, shortly before half-time. Again, the Reading defence contributed significantly to its own downfall. Matthew Lowton nodded the ball goalwards, Barry Bannan instinctively jabbed an attempt against a post and Gabby Agbonlahor thundered the rebound into the roof of the net.

Reading could hardly comprehend the scoreline and left the pitch to a chorus of jeers at the break. Their mood did not improve after the interval, when Noel Hunt bundled in Le Fondre's cross at the far post, only to be flagged offside. "It was close, but the benefit of doubt has been given to the defender," Brian McDermott, the Reading manager, said. "Not many decisions are going our way at the moment."

Villa appeared to settle early for the slender victory, retreating further into their own half and inviting Reading on to them. Nick Blackman, a substitute, twice went close, but Villa held on.

With home matches against QPR and Liverpool coming up, they have given themselves hope. Reading face successive away trips to Manchester United and Arsenal.

Whatever hope they had is fading fast.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London