Harry’s QPR debut yields point Benteke seals Villa win over Reading

LONDON, Nov 28, (AFP): Harry Redknapp’s first match as Queens Park Rangers manager saw the Premier League basement club collect a point in a goalless draw away to Sunderland.
It was QPR’s first point since they drew 1-1 with Reading on November 4 but the result meant the west London club, who last week sacked Mark Hughes as their manager, remained bottom of the table.
But in the day’s other top-flight match Aston Villa moved out of the bottom three after Christian Benteke’s goal 10 minutes from time secured a 1-0 win at home to fellow strugglers Reading.
Victory moved Villa two points clear of the relegation zone, with QPR eight from safety.
“We worked hard and we deserved a point tonight,” said Redknapp, whom QPR’s Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes hopes can repeat the rescue missions that helped both Portsmouth and Tottenham stay in the Premier League after poor starts to top-flight campaigns.
“We defended well and denied them chances,” Redknapp, also told Sky Sports. “I feel more optimistic tonight than on Saturday (when QPR lost 3-1 to Manchester United).


“I saw enough tonight to think we can go on a small run and keep ourselves in the pack,” the veteran English manager insisted.
Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill was left with a feeling of “frustration,” saying: “I was hoping we would win the game.
“I know QPR will be buoyed by Harry Redknapp’s appointment but I thought we could create enough to win. There were chances at both ends but it was a frustrating evening.”
Meanwhile under-pressure Villa manager Paul Lambert, who for the second match in a row didn’t even have club record signing Darren Bent on the bench, let alone in the starting line-up, was delighted with Benteke’s 80th minute header that secured a valuable win at Villa Park.
“Benteke’s done fantastic for me. He was up against a big lad. It was a fantastic header.”


Lambert added: “Darren Bent just has to play well and train well. He has a future, everybody has.
“Nothing against anybody in the club, but I’ve got 25 lads to look after. Bent and Benteke can play together — they did against Southampton.
“I’ve got to pick a team I think will win.”
Tuesday’s matches saw the Premier League welcome its 250 millionth fan through the turnstiles, over 20 years after the League launched on August 15, 1992. Attendances at the Stadium of the Light (36,513) and Villa Park (28,692) pushed the figure beyond the 250 million barrier.
In Birmingham, United Kingdom, Christian Benteke proved a more than able stand-in for record signing Darren Bent by scoring the winner that saw Aston Villa beat Reading 1-0.
Victory, only their third in the league this season, lifted Villa out of the bottom three while Reading remained in the relegation zone.


It also helped Villa manager Paul Lambert justify his decision to leave Bent out of his squad entirely for the second successive match.
However, it was not until 10 minutes from time that Belgium international Benteke ended a run of a four-games without a goal by heading in a corner from Ashley Westwood.
Villa dominated possession and chances, with Benteke testing Reading’s Australian keeper Adam Federici early on with a low shot after good work by recalled midfielder Brett Holman.
Benteke then turned provider, only for Andreas Weimann to shoot wastefully over the bar from just six yards out.
In the second half, Villa continued to press but the game seem destined for a goalless stalemate that would have done neither side much good until Benteke, a £7 million ($11 million) pre-season signing from Genk, settled the match when he rose above the Royals’ defence to power in a downward header past Federici.

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