Benteke eases Villa’s relegation fears

Striker scores winner as QPR move nearer to the drop

Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor scores against QPR during the Premier League clash at Villa Park. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor scores against QPR during the Premier League clash at Villa Park. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

 

Christian Benteke eased Aston Villa’s relegation fears and pushed bottom-placed QPR nearer to the drop as his late winner settled a pulsating Premier League clash as the home side claimed a 3-2 victory at Villa Park.

Rangers dominated the opening half and deservedly led through a goal from midfielder Jermaine Jenas, only for Gabriel Agbonlahor to level against the run of play.

Andreas Weimann put the home side ahead early in the second half and, after Andros Townsend made it 2-2, Villa’s Austrian striker set up the winner for Benteke.

It was Belgium international Benteke’s seventh goal in the last eight league games and took his overall tally to 17 since his summer move from Genk.

Arsenal kept themselves firmly in the race for Champions League qualification with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Swansea .

The Gunners had by far the better of the contest and Nacho Monreal’s first goal for the club gave them the lead with 16 minutes remaining, before substitute Gervinho struck in stoppage time.

Swansea faded badly after a promising opening and, aside from a couple of half-chances, they barely worked Lukasz Fabianski in the Arsenal goal.

The win moves Arsene Wenger ’s side to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea — and four of third-placed Tottenham — with their rivals in action tomorrow.

Stoke’s losing streak came to an end but they had to settle for a point after failing to make a breakthrough against West Brom at the Britannia Stadium.

After Asmir Begovic kept out an early strike from Albion captain Chris Brunt, the hosts — who went into the contest having lost their last three Premier League games and seven of their previous nine — were the better side in a scrappy first half.

They could not pose any great threat to the Baggies goal, though, with a deflected Jon Walters effort being their closest attempt.

The match improved slightly after the break, but neither team could find a winner, with West Brom’s Romelu Lukaku and Stoke’s Peter Crouch unable to convert headers.

Potters substitute Kenwyne Jones passed up a good opportunity in stoppage time, with Ben Foster claiming his shot.

The result sees Stoke move up to 10th place in the table, while Albion stay eighth.