Monday 11 December 2017

Rep of Ireland hope Jack Grealish makes first start as Benteke saves Villains


Christian Benteke's hat-trick rescued a crucial point for Aston Villa in a thrilling 3-3 draw with relegation rivals QPR.

The striker levelled to complete his treble with just seven minutes left after QPR looked to have done enough to climb out of the bottom three and leapfrog Villa.

Clint Hill and Charlie Austin had fired Rangers 3-2 ahead after the break following Benteke's first-half double.

He had cancelled out Matt Phillips' opener but the draw did little for either side's survival hopes.

Villa moved three points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone while Rangers climbed to third bottom, still two points from safety.

Jack Grealish made his first league start for Villa as the fit-again Ron Vlaar and Tom Cleverley returned along with Leandro Bacuna and Kieran Richardson.

QPR opened the scoring after seven minutes. Austin's cross was not cleared and Bobby Zamora picked up the pieces to centre for Phillips to nod in unmarked from six yards.

Yet Villa levelled just 151 seconds later when Fabian Delph played in Benteke and his shot deflected off Steven Caulker and past Rob Green.

Villa then completed their first-half comeback when Benteke grabbed his second after 33 minutes.

Rangers had offered little threat since going behind but Hill headed in his first Premier League goal from Phillips' corner after out-muscling Ciarán Clark.

Austin edged Rangers ahead with 12 minutes left but Benteke clawed Villa back again five minutes later.

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