Villa comeback rattles Hughes’ new boys

Aston Villa 2 QPR 2

Djibril Cisse scored on his debut but QPR surrendered a two-goal lead – and were left hanging on for a point.

Cisse’s fierce strike from the edge of the penalty area and a comical own goal by Stephen Warnock put Rangers in the driving seat, before Darren Bent pulled one back just before half-time from Alan Hutton’s cross.

And after dominating most of the game, Villa were rewarded with a 79th-minute equaliser when Charles N’Zogbia met Stiliyan Petrov’s right-wing cross with a peach of a volley.

Cisse made his first appearance for the R’s along with fellow January signings Nedum Onuoha and Taye Taiwo.

Left-back Taiwo, brought in from AC Milan, received international clearance to play while versatile defender Onouha slotted in alongside Anton Ferdinand at centre-back.

Frenchman Cisse, who started up front with Rob Hulse of all people, took only 12 minutes to score for his new club.

The former Liverpool striker pounced on the loose ball after Stephen Ireland’s tackle on Shaun Wright-Phillips and smashed an unstoppable shot past keeper Shay Given.

And Rangers went further in front when Taiwo swung in a cross from the left and Warnock, under no pressure whatsoever, inexpicably headed into his own net at the far post.

But Villa always looked dangerous and after Robbie Keane hit the post from 15 yards out, they halved the deficit with a well worked goal shortly before the interval.

Keane found Hutton, and Bent got in front of Onuoha to meet the Scot’s delivery at the near post and score his 100th Premier League goal.

Villa started the second half as they ended the first, putting the visitors’ new-look defence under sustained pressure.

Petrov’s deflected shot was kept out by keeper Paddy Kenny’s legs, before referee Neil Swarbrick ignored Villa’s appeals for a penalty after Ciaran Clark’s effort hit Shaun Derry’s arm.

Kenny produced another good save, this time to deny Keane, but was unable to keep out the cracking strike which hauled Villa level.

Ireland released Petrov and the Bulgarian found N’Zogbia, who connected perfectly.

And Rangers were still made to sweat for their point, with Villa again appealing in vain for a late penalty.

Bent’s shot was cleared off the line by substitute Tommy Smith and after Keane’s follow-up was stopped by Kenny, the loose ball struck Jamie Mackie’s arm.

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