Ben­teke tre­ble keeps Villa out of trou­ble

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Chris­tian Ben­teke scored a po­ten­tially priceless hat-trick as As­ton Villa avoided slip­ping into the Pre­mier League rel­e­ga­tion zone by drawing 3-3 at home to Queens Park Rangers on Tues­day.

Af­ter Matt Phillips put QPR ahead, a Ben­teke brace gave Villa con­trol, only for sec­ond-half goals from Clint Hill and Char­lie Austin to leave QPR on the brink of a win that would have taken them out of the bot­tom three at their op­po­nents’ ex­pense.

But Ben­teke com­pleted his tre­ble with an inch-per­fect 83rd­minute free-kick to take the Bel­gian striker’s tally to seven goals in five games and leave Tim Sher­wood’s side three points above the bot­tom three.

“Chris­tian Ben­teke was very good. The sec­ond goal es­pe­cially was ex­cel­lent,” said Villa manager Sher­wood.

“We need him be­tween now and the end of the sea­son, but it was dis­ap­point­ing to give away scruffy goals.

“It might be a very im­por­tant point. Only time will tell, but we need to win games. It is a point in the right di­rec­tion though.”

Chris Ram­sey’s QPR moved above Burn­ley on goal dif­fer­ence, but they are now two points from safety hav­ing played a game more than fourth-bot­tom Hull City.

“The point was bet­ter for them,” said Ram­sey, who worked as Sher­wood’s as­sis­tant at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur last sea­son.

“We would have loved to have won the game and been above the line. Based on the per­for­mance in the sec­ond half, we are dis­ap­pointed we have not got three points.”

Villa started brightly at Villa Park, but it was QPR who took a sev­enth- minute lead when Bobby Zamora’s feath­ered cross was headed in by Phillips.

How­ever, Villa quickly forced the vis­i­tors back and drew level just three min­utes later when Ben­teke was al­lowed to drift in­field from the left and curled a shot past QPR goal­keeper Rob Green.

Green saved twice from 19-yearold mid­fielder Jack Gre­al­ish, mak­ing his first league start for Villa, and San­dro blocked from Ron Vlaar be­fore Ben­teke put the home side ahead in the 33rd minute.

Gabriel Ag­bon­la­hor beat San­dro to the ball and freed Ben­teke, who eluded Hill and scored with his right foot.

Ag­bon­la­hor headed just wide from Le­an­dro Ba­cuna’s cross shortly be­fore half-time and with Villa con­tin­u­ing to dom­i­nate early in the sec­ond half, Ram­sey took ac­tion by in­tro­duc­ing Karl Henry and Ar­mand Traore.

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