Villa nudge Rangers closer to the drop

Aston Villa 3 QPR 2

QPR’s survival prospects look bleak after they were edged out in a thriller at Villa Park.

They bossed the first half and former Villa loanee Jermaine Jenas gave them a deserved lead only for Gabby Agbonlahor to equalise against the run of play seconds before the interval.

An action-packed second half saw Andreas Weimann fire Villa in front but Andros Townsend pulled Rangers level with a deflected shot from the edge of the box.

However, Christian Benteke had the last word nine minutes from time, converting Weimann’s cut-back to condemn QPR to defeat.

The end-to-end nature of the second half was a fair cry from the first, which the R’s largely dominated.

Chris Samba was twice denied early on by spectacular saves from Villa keeper Brad Guzan, but Rangers broke the deadlock midway through the first half.

Jenas picked up a loose pass in midfield, slipped in Bobby Zamora and then continued his run to ensure he was first to the rebound when the striker’s shot was saved.

After Jenas’s goal, Rangers came close to doubling their lead on three occasions.

Zamora saw a free-kick whistle inches over the crossbar, Guzan produced another fine stop to deny Loic Remy and Jose Bosingwa’s free-kick hit the post.

But they were left stunned by a Villa equaliser with virtually the last kick of the half.

Matthew Lowton swung in a cross for Agbonlahor, who climbed above Bosingwa to power home a header.

That goal seemed to energise the home side and they were on the front foot for most of the second 45 minutes.

Shortly after Julio Cesar had palmed a Weimann header over the bar, the Austrian fired Villa in front, twisting inside the box before drilling home.

Lowton should have extended the lead but he produced a full-back’s finish when through on goal – and QPR took full advantage of the let-off nine minutes later.

Loic Remy and Ji-sung Park were involved in the build-up with the Korean laying the ball off to Townsend, whose low drive clipped the heels of Villa captain Ron Vlaar before nestling into the net.

Substitute Adel Taarabt gave QPR a greater attacking edge during an impressive 25-minute cameo but it was Villa who had the last laugh as the Rangers defence crumbled.

Weimann was this time the architect as he wriggled clear to the byline and cut the ball back for Benteke, who side-footed into the empty net with Cesar flailing at his near post.

QPR could still have snatched a point as Remy headed wide from close range and Clint Hill drove over deep into stoppage time, but defeat will come as a blow to boss Harry Redknapp’s hopes of pulling off another great escape.

QPR: Cesar, Bosingwa, Samba, Hill, Fabio (Taarabt 66), Park (Mackie 87), Mbia, Jenas, Remy, Zamora (Hoilett 45), Townsend.
Subs not used: Murphy, Wright-Phillips, Granero, Onuoha.



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