Aston Villa 3-3 QPR: Benteke hat-trick rescues Villans’ survival hopes in thrilling basement battle

first_imgChristian Benteke kept Aston Villa’s hopes of Premier League survival alive with a stunning late free-kick which sealed a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers.In a topsy turvy basement battle at Villa Park which saw the teams exchange the lead several times, the hosts were left indebted to the Belgian striker’s timely return of form, as his fine hat-trick ensured his side remain out of the bottom-three.QPR took the lead early in the first half when Matthew Phillips took advantage of some poor defending to head in, but Benteke struck twice to put Villa in front before half-time.Chris Ramsey’s men looked down and out but they emerged from the break with fire in their bellies, and Clint Hill soon headed in from a corner to level to scores, with star man Charlie Austin firing the Super Hoops in front moments later.Holding on for the win would have seen Rangers climb out of the relegation zone, but Benteke was on hand to bail out Tim Sherwood’s charges, slamming his dead-ball effort in off the inside of the post to leave the London side still three points from safety.Having conceded over 100 goals between them so far this season, it seemed inevitable the game would be a tale of two defences, rather than their prowess in front of goal.And so it proved, as Aston Villa fell behind after just seven minutes courtesy of Phillips, who was completely unmarked as he nodded in at the far post from Bobby Zamora’s clever cross.However, Rangers’ defence was possibly even worse at times and Villa hit back almost instantly, with Benteke rediscovering his scoring boots to put the hosts ahead before the break.He pulled Villa level with a fine effort, curling the ball beyond the reach of the sprawling Rob Green, and his second was the result of a clinical counter attack.Benteke found himself clean through from inside his own half after a defensive clearance and raced towards goal, holding off two chasing centre-backs and delaying his shot until the final moment before wrong-footing Green with a dinked effort at his near post.The hosts were well on top at the break and looked on their way to a victory which would have seen them go five points clear of the drop, but they hit self-destruct in the second half with some shocking defending which saw QPR take the lead and Sherwood raging on the sidelines.Rangers’ 36-year-old captain Hill was untracked at a corner as his looped header pulled the visitors level, and Phillips then got the better of Kieran Richardson on the edge of the box before finding Austin, who found the net with a neat swivel and shot from 12 yards.It was courageous stuff from the London outfit, who are desperate to escape the clutches of relegation, but again it was a mistake which handed Villa a point.Goalscorer Hill clumsily brought down substitute Charles N’Zogbia on the edge of the area, with Benteke keeping his cool to smash home to secure the draw as well as the match ball. Aston Villa’s hat-trick hero Christian Benteke 1last_img read more