Going into this game, I think everyone would definitely have said that this was a very important game and one in which defeat would be catastrophic. It has to be said that defeat was close.
Cleverley, Sánchez and Richardson all started, with Grealish making his first start for Villa this season. Looking at the team sheet, we can see that the Villans are having an injury crisis at the moment.
The Villans started the half well, with both full backs getting lots of space on the wings and causing QPR lots of problems. Once again, however, a bright start became a nightmare, with the first goal from QPR coming against the run of play when Matt Phillips grabbed the goal with a header.
Before the frustration came, the brilliant Benteke got himself into the QPR box and scored from the left into the top right of Rob Green’s goal.
From this, it became apparent that QPR’s only threat came from the right, with Kieran Richardson struggling to deal with Matt Phillips, who was causing the left back many problems.
Half way through the first half, it seemed QPR was the team that was likely to score next. However, it was the Villans’ counter attack that led to an Agbonlahor assist to set up Benteke with his second goal of the game, when he calmly pushed the QPR defence back into the box to wrong foot Green and score in the bottom left-hand corner.
Before half time, Villa came close to a third when Bacuna’s cross picked out Agbonlahor, who headed inches wide of the post.
Overall, the first half was a good one for Villa due to Benteke scoring and the boys in claret and blue finding lots of crosses from the wings. However, neither Grealish nor Richardson were having a good game. Grealish’s corners were rubbish and Richardson couldn’t cope with defending.
The start of the second half was bright for the hosts, with Agblonahor making good runs down the right. Unfortunately, QPR’s two substitutes changed the game, with the team then playing three at the back. This stopped the Villa threat using this wings, allowing the QPR players to grow in confidence.
Richardson’s poor defending again led to a corner, from which Clint Hill scored with a header into Guzan’s goal.
We then saw a different Villa from the first half: the players seemed lost and frustrated; they just didn’t look like scoring. Sánchez and Richardson were the worst Villa players on the park and, because of this, QPR scored when one of their players got past both Sánchez and Richardson, leaving goal scorer Austin to poke the ball between the legs of Guzan to make it 3-2 to the visitors.
At this point, I think everyone thought ‘here we go again’. Sherwood brought on N’Zogbia, who won a free kick on the edge of the QPR box, and Benteke showed his value in scoring from the free kick, which meant he had his hat trick.
The Villans could only settle for a frustrating draw but at least didn’t lose the crucial clash.
On the whole, Sherwood’s side should have won with its first half display but Ramsey changed tactics and his men were able to make a comeback. Benteke showed what he can do, whilst Grealish, Sánchez and Richardson will struggle to get into the first team squad next time with their perrformances last night.
Manager Tim Sherwood said after the game that Aston Villa “deserved to win” the match. He went on to say that the hosts “fatigued” in the second half, adding that the club has an “injury crisis” to contend with. Not surprisingly, Sherwood praised striker Christian Benteke, whose hat-trick earned a vital point for relegation-threatened Villa.