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Premier League

  • March 16, 2013
  • • 23:00
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 38594
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Aston Villa 3-2 QPR: Rangers left on the brink by Benteke winner

Aston Villa 3-2 QPR: Rangers left on the brink by Benteke winner

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A late goal from the Belgian striker secured a vital victory for Paul Lambert's men, while Harry Redknapp's side are seven points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table

Christian Benteke had the final say in a five-goal thriller at Villa Park to heighten QPR's relegation fears, while Aston Villa have salvaged some breathing space at the bottom of the Premier League.

Victory has fired Paul Lambert's side six points clear of the drop zone, while a costly defeat casts QPR seven points adrift of safety with eight Premier League matches remaining.

Harry Redknapp's men had taken the lead after 23 minutes through Jermaine Jenas before the hosts equalised on the stroke of half-time through Gabriel Agbonlahor. Andreas Weimann then put Lambert's men ahead after the break prior to Andros Townsend's leveller, but, with nine minutes remaining, Benteke was on hand to seal Villa's seventh win of the campaign.

Clearly encouraged by their victory over fellow relegation candidates Reading last weekend, Villa started the stronger of the two sides and showed strong composure in possession in the opening stages.

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 stunning saves to twice deny Christopher Samba in the space of a minute. The American first saved a dipping header from the 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 QPR ahead after 23 minutes when poor passing from Villa in the centre of the field resulted in Bobby Zamora breaking away and forcing Guzan into a save before Jenas followed up to poke the ball into the back of an empty net.

Villa struggled to recover from the setback and could have gone two or three goals down before half-time following a string of chances from Zamora, Loic Remy and a free kick which hit the post from Jose Bosingwa, but Guzan was on hand to keep out QPR's attacking onslaught.

Despite their dominance, Redknapp's men surrendered their lead on the stroke of half-time when Matthew Lowton crossed in to Agbonlahor to head past a stationary Julio Cesar, who had rarely been tested up until Villa's goal.

Encouraged by Agbonlahor's late equaliser in the first half, Aston Villa went ahead just before the hour mark after QPR failed to clear a corner which allowed Weimann to turn inside the QPR box and fire low past Cesar.

Clearly frustrated by his attacking options, Redknapp took off Fabio and replaced him with Adel Taarabt, who went on to constantly probe Villa's defence.

QPR's pressure mounted and eventually led to their equaliser with 73 minutes played after fine build-up play saw the ball find Townsend just outside the penalty area, and the on-loan midfielder's strike was able to fox Guzan thanks to a deflection.

Villa's reaction to the setback was a stark contrast to the period after QPR's opener and Lambert's men were rewarded for their persistence after Weimann surged into the box, drew Cesar out of position, and played a pass back to Benteke who was left with a comfortable finish to secure a precious win.

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