Six goals were scored in a wild 90 minutes of play at Villa Park as Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers drew 3-3.
QPR came back from 2-1 down to take a 3-2 lead, but Christian Benteke completed his hat-trick in the final ten minutes to dash the R’s hopes of back-to-back wins.
With the draw, Aston Villa sit 16th on the table, three points above relegation. Queens Park Rangers remain in the drop zone, two points behind Hull City with one more match played.
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The goals came quickly, as both sides traded tallies within the opening ten minutes. QPR got on the board first as Matty Phillips put the visitors ahead. Leandro Bacuna failed to clear the box for Villa, as Bobby Zamora gained control and cut to his left. Zamora threw in a cross to Phillips who found himself wide open at the back post, easily heading past Brad Guzan.
But just three minutes later Villa drew even as Christian Benteke’s deflected shot dropped in over a helpless Robert Green. The Belgian striker took the ball down the left wing before cutting inside to his right foot and firing a shot on goal. The strike deflected off Mauricio Isla, leaving Green no chance to make a save.
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In the 32nd minute it was Benteke again for Villa, adding to his tally and giving Tim Sherwood’s side the lead. Gabriel Agbonlahor sent Benteke through, as the striker had no pressure and moved in one-on-one with Robert Green. Benteke cooly slotted home for his second of the half giving Villa the lead heading into the dressing room.
Aston Villa came out after the break and controlled the early play, but it was Queens Park Rangers who found an equalizer in the 55th minute. Matty Phillips whipped in a corner kick that found the head of Clint Hill, as the 36-year-old scored the first Premier League goal of his career. An outstretched Brad Guzan couldn’t reach the header, as there was no defender on the far post to help the goalkeeper off the corner.
It looked like the “great escape” was in full effect for QPR when Charlie Austin put the R’s ahead in the 78th minute. Phillips was involved again, beating his defender before finding Austin in the box. QPR’s leading goal scorer made no mistake with the cross to fire Chris Ramsey’s men into the lead.
But the night belonged to Christian Benteke, who completed his hat-trick just five minutes after Villa went behind. With a free kick just outside the box, Benteke curled a beautiful strike over the wall and off the near post, saving a point for Aston Villa and keeping the club above the drop zone.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna (Lowton 75′), Vlaar, Clark, Richardson, Cleverley (N’Zogbia 81′), Delph, Sanchez, Grealish (Cole 71′), Agbonlahor, Benteke
Goals: Benteke (10′, 33′, 83′)
Queens Park Rangers: Green, Isla (Henry 52′), Onuoha, Caulker, Hill, Phillips, Sandro (Doughty 70′), Barton, Kranjcar (Traore 52′), Austin, Zamora
Goals: Phillips (7′), Hill (55′), Austin (78′)