Cape Town - Christian Benteke has 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.
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 83rd-minute 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.
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."
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
"The point was better for them," said Ramsey, who worked as Sherwood's assistant at Tottenham Hotspur last season.
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
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-year-old
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.
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.
changes had an immediate effect as within three minutes the visitors
were level, with 36-year-old Hill claiming his first Premier League goal
by heading in Phillips's corner.
Twelve minutes from time,
Phillips turned creator again, wriggling past Kieran Richardson and
crossing for Austin to slam home his 17th goal of the league campaign.
But Benteke had the final say by bending a free-kick over the QPR wall and in off the post past the despairing dive of Green.