QPR 1 Aston Villa 1
Richard Dunne’s injury-time own goal gave QPR a point – and their first goal at Loftus Road since returning to the Premier League.
Rangers, down to 10 men after the 90th-minute sending-off of Armand Traore, looked set to suffer a controversial defeat until Stephen Warnock’s clearance from Heidar Helguson’s low cross hit Dunne and went in.
Barry Bannan’s hotly disputed penalty had given Aston Villa, who remain unbeaten in the league this season, a 57th-minute lead.
Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot following Traore’s slight tug of Gabriel Agbonlahor’s shirt, but later gave Alan Hutton the benefit of the doubt after Shaun Derry’s header from Adel Taarabt’s corner struck the Villa defender’s arm.
Rangers dominated most of the first half and went close to going ahead after only six minutes, when Taarabt turned away from Stiliyan Petrov and sent a curling 25-yard shot against the post.
Jay Bothroyd headed wide from a Joey Barton free-kick and then served up an excellent cross from the right only for Barton to miscue at the far post.
Having been a virtual spectator, R’s keeper Paddy Kenny produced a fine save to prevent his team falling behind a minute before the break, diving to his left to claw away Bannan’s free-kick.
It was a sign of things to come as Villa were much more effective after the restart and almost scored when Fabian Delph shot wide after drifting behind the QPR defence to collect Bannan’s pass.
Rangers were fortunate on that occasion but luck was certainly not on their side when Oliver handed Bannan the chance to score his first Premier League goal.
There was no obvious foul when Agbonlahor failed to connect with Warnock’s left-wing cross, but Traore’s contact with the Villa forward was enough for Oliver to award a spot-kick.
As with his earlier free-kick, Bannan put his penalty to Kenny’s left but this time managed to place it beyond his reach.
It was tough on Rangers but a consequence of their failure to take their chances.
Just as against Newcastle in their previous home match, Neil Warnock’s men struggled to make the most of their possession and Bothroyd was unable to find his elusive first goal for the club.
With England manager Fabio Capello watching at Loftus Road, Bothroyd will regard his first-half header wide as an opportunity missed in more ways than one.
Capello is expected to recall Shaun Wright-Phillips to the international fold, although the former Manchester City man was not as influential as in his previous games for Rangers.
But Bothroyd’s England chances probably didn’t improve despite some decent hold-up play, and DJ Campbell made an impact when he replaced him midway through the second half.
Campbell knocked the ball down to Wright-Phillips, whose shot was superbly tipped away by keeper Shay Given.
That lifted Rangers and they should have had a penalty when Hutton handled in the box. They again appealed in vain when substitute Tommy Smith’s cross struck Hutton’s arm, although that time it was purely accidental.
When Traore, yellow-carded after conceding the penalty, fouled Marc Albrighton and was dismissed for a second bookable offence, Villa looked home and dry.
But Rangers did not give up and Dunne, who has scored more own goals than any other top-flight player, came to their rescue in the final seconds.