Villa held after Stoke's late comeback

Aston Villa 2 Stoke City 2
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Aston Villa's chances of qualifying for the Champions League were dented today when the home side squandered a two-goal lead in the final minutes against Stoke to draw 2-2 at Villa Park.



Villa took the lead in the last minute of the first half, when Stilian Petrov's shot was fumbled by Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen. Sorensen, playing against his former club, was replaced at the interval by Steve Simonsen.

The home side dominated in the second period but didn't extend their lead until the 79th minute, when Norway striker John Carew's shot found the top corner.

Stoke's comeback began in the 88th minute, when Ryan Shawcross headed in James Beattie's cross.

The visitors then stunned Villa when Glenn Whelan scored with an astonishing half-volley in the first minute of injury time.

The result means Villa remain fourth, in the final Champions League slot, three points behind Liverpool in third and sixth points clear of Arsenal, which is fifth.

Stoke stays 19th, below Middlesbrough on goal difference.

West Ham moved up to seventh after a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Upton Park on Sunday.

The Hammers were the better side in the first half and their stylish play finally produced a goal in the 71st minute, when City keeper Shay Given could only parry Savio's shot and Jack Collison turned in the rebound.

Blackburn moved out of the relegation zone on goal difference with a 2-1 win at Hull, a fiery game that saw both sides reduced to 10 men.

Blackburn took a 2-0 lead in the first half, with two goals in three minutes.

In the 34th Stephen Warnock swept Roque Santa Cruz's pass into the top corner and Warnock then set up Keith Andrews for Blackburn's second on 36 minutes.

In the second half Hull manager Phil Brown decided to replace Brazilian midfielder Geovanni, provoking a chorus of booing from the home fans and their team was then reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute.

Dean Marney and Morten Gamst Pedersen clashed in the air and as Marney got to his feet he aimed a kick at the Norway international, earning a straight red card from referee Martin Atkinson.

Pedersen, who was booked for his role in the challenge was then sent off in the 70th minute when he was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle on Kamil Zayette.

Hull pulled one back in the 78th minute when Iain Ashbee turned in Bernard Mendy's cross, but the Tigers have now gone 11 league games without winning. They stay 13th in the standings.

Bolton are 10th after a 1-0 win over Newcastle at the Reebok.

The best chance of a goalless first half came in injury time, when Sweden international Johan Elmander dragged a shot wide.

Half time substitute Ricardo Gardner made an instant impact for the home side, as his 47th minute effort found the top corner, after an assist from Matthew Taylor.

Newcastle had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down when Fabricio Coloccini's shot was blocked by Jlloyd Samuel's arm in the area.

Newcastle remain 15th, just two points clear of the relegation zone.

The day's big match was the League Cup final being played at Wembley between Manchester United and Tottenham.

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