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Premier League

  • 1 February 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: N. Swarbrick
  • • Attendance: 32063

Aston Villa 2-2 QPR: Darren Bent & Charles N'Zogbia save point for hosts after bouncing back from two-goal deficit

Aston Villa 2-2 QPR: Darren Bent & Charles N'Zogbia save point for hosts after bouncing back from two-goal deficit

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A debut goal from Djibril Cisse and a bizarre Stephen Warnock own-goal gave Mark Hughes' side the advantage, but sloppy second-half performance a gift for the hosts

Aston Villa and QPR battled to a 2-2 draw at Villa Park on Wednesday night after an entertaining affair.

QPR raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half after a Djibril Cisse strike and a Stephen Warnock own-goal put Mark Hughes's side in the lead, but Villa fought back courtesy thanks to a Darren Bent effort just before half-time and Charles N'Zogbia's volley late on in the second half.

Hughes handed first-team debuts to January acquisitions Taye Taiwo, Nedum Onuoha and Djibril Cisse, with Rob Hulse and Shaun Derry also brought into the starting eleven, while Aston Villa restored Charles N'Zogbia to the line-up in place of Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Villa began the game as the more positive side, with Alan Hutton delivering an exquisite ball in from the right hand touchline, but the QPR backline were able to scramble it away with Bent lurking in close quarters.

The visitors began to come into the match more and more though, with Cisse stretching the Villa defence, and it was he who broke the deadlock in the 11th minute.

The French striker latched on to Shaun Wright Phillips' deflected shot from the edge of the area and finding the net with a first-time finish from 12 yards out on the right hand side of the box.

With the game beginning to open up as Villa chased an immediate response, Cisse again found himself free at the back post from a Joey Barton cross, but his volleyed effort was comfortably held by Shay Given.

By the quarter of an hour mark, QPR were firmly on top, with Cisse once again instrumental in providing the spark behind a promising move, but he wasn't quite tall enough for Wright Phillips' cross.

QPR grabbed their second with almost half-an-hour gone, albeit fortuitously, as Warnock headed past his own goalkeeper after Dunne missed the ball, and the visitors were looking commanding.

A shell-shocked Villa were urged to up the tempo by a frustrated home support, and they responded immediately as Keane struck the crossbar after his shot was deflected, but Hughes' team remained 2-0 up.

Villa then had two penalty appeals turned down in the space of one move - firstly as Darren Bent's through ball struck Jamie Mackie on the hand. Then secondly from the resulting Warnock cross, with the ball once again striking Mackie on the arm, but the referee remained unmoved by either incident.

It was Hutton who proved crucial in granting Villa a foothold back into the game as his precise cross found Bent to sweep home from six yards out for his 100th Premier League goal, after a flowing Villa move.

N'Zogbia strikes back | Winger scores late on to complete Villa comeback

The second-half began much in the same way as the first-half finished, with Villa firmly in the ascendancy as Stiliyan Petrov's deflected strike was kept out by Paddy Kenny's legs.

Alex McLeish's side then had their third, and perhaps best, penalty appeal of the match turned down after Ciaran Clark's effort in the box caught Derry straight on the arm, with referee Neil Swarbrick once again waving play on.

With the game being played at breakneck speed, QPR then missed a great chance, as Jamie Mackie failed to make contact with Shaun Wright-Phillips' superb low cross, just four yards out from goal.

While the tempo began to quieten down for the first time in the half, Villa then managed to equalise in the 78th minute, with N'Zogbia striking a sumptuous left-footed volley from inside the box, getting on the end of Petrov's excellently stood up centre, after some neat work by Ireland

Villa nearly completed an unlikely comeback just five minutes later, but Bent's effort from the corner was cleared off the line, while the Villa players once again protested that the ball had hit a QPR player's arm.

N'Zogbia again went close with a stinging drive from the edge of the area which was turned behind by Kenny, but QPR held on.

Alex McLeish will be more than delighted with his team's comeback, but will be left wondering what might have been as their second-half pressure more than warranted a victory in an enjoyable end-to-end game.

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