Christian Benteke sinks QPR to boost Aston Villa survival bid

Aston Villa eased their relegation worries as Christian Benteke’s late strike clinched a crucial 3-2 win over fellow strugglers QPR on Saturday.



Paul Lambert’s team moved six points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three thanks to Benteke’s winner nine minutes from the end of a thrilling encounter at Villa Park.



QPR had taken a first half lead through Jermaine Jenas, only for Gabriel Agbonlahor to equalise against the run of play just before the break.



Andreas Weimann put Villa ahead early in the second half before Andros Townsend hauled QPR level to set up a dramatic finale capped by Belgian striker Benteke’s seventh goal in the last eight league games — his 17th since his ?8 million move from Genk last year.



While Villa can look to the final weeks of the season more optimistically after this win, QPR remain bottom of the table and are now seven points from safety.



To make matters worse for Harry Redknapp’s team, they should have been out of sight before half-time after a dominant opening.



Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan made two excellent saves in the space of 60 seconds to keep his side on level terms.



The United States international backpedalled to turn a looping header from Christopher Samba over the bar after he had connected with a Jose Bosingwa free-kick.



Then Guzan made an even better save to turn aside another effort from Samba, this time from just inside the box.



But Guzan was beaten when Villa substitute Joe Bennett played a careless pass just inside his own half which was seized on by Jenas who released Bobby Zamora in space.



Zamora’s low drive was parried by Guzan but Jenas continued his run into the box and was first to the loose ball to make no mistake from close range.



Villa narrowly avoided falling 2-0 down when Bosingwa’s powerful free-kick struck a post.



But in first half stoppage-time Villa forward Agbonlahor scored a vital equaliser, timing his run to the far post and heading home Matt Lowton’s cross.



The momentum swung Villa’s way after that Bennett atoned for his earlier costly error by setting up Weimann for his 11th goal of the season in the 59th minute.



Bennett showed good control before supplying the pass to Weimann who cut inside before drilling a low left-footed shot past Julio Cesar.



With 17 minutes left, on-loan Tottenham winger Townsend levelled for QPR when his deflected shot flew past Guzan.



There was no sign of Villa’s young team buckling under the pressure and after 81 minutes Weimann drove over a low cross which was turned in by Benteke to spark wild celebrations from the home players and fans.

Read more :
  • Jordi Alba out as Spain face France in a must-win tie
    The prospect of the reigning world champions missing next year's World Cup finals in Brazil will become a very real one if stumbling Spain suffer another slip-up in France on Tuesday evenin...
  • Michael Owen to retire at end of season
    Former England striker Michael Owen announced on Tuesday that he will retire from professional football at the end of the current season. "It is with an immense amount of pride that I am a...
  • New boxing talents abound in N. Cotabato
    Boxer Rolando Magbanua of Pigcawayan CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Even in the din of the celebration following Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong’s historic feat of winning North Cotabato’s first world boxin...
  • Federer and Serena power into quarter-finals
    MELBOURNE - Roger Federer delivered a lesson to the next generation at the Australian Open, extending his record to a 35th consecutive grand slam quarter-final after Serena Williams set up ...
  • Djokovic’s ironman qualities tested again in Melbourne
    MELBOURNE - Novak Djokovic once had a reputation for wilting when the physical strain became too much - not anymore. In 2009, extreme heat forced him to retire during the quarter-finals at...
  • UE Red Warriors ready to wreak havoc in Season 76
    The University of the East Red Warriors are all set for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 76 which will begin on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pas...
  • Rafael Nadal: Players want more freedom
    Rafael Nadal has claimed that tennis players want more freedom to choose which tournaments they play in. The 25-year-old is part of a group of players, including Andy Murray, who are set t...
  • Li Na dumped out in Eastbourne by Vesnina
    EASTBOURNE, United Kingdom: China’s Li Na missed her chance for a semi-final spot at the ATP-WTA Eastbourne International on a muggy on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as the second seed lost t...