Aston Villa widen the gap in five-goal thriller
Aston Villa 3 QPR 2
Aston Villa sent out a warning side to their fellow relegation-destined sides after coming out on top at Villa Park. However, they didn’t do it the easy way.
It was an end-to-end game, one that both teams could not afford to lose. It was Harry Redknapp’s rejuvenated QPR who took the lead though, this time through Jermaine Jenas, as he netted his second goal in as many games. That didn’t dampen the mood at Villa Park and, on the stroke of half-time, Gabriel Agbonlahor headed in Matthew Lowton’s in swinging cross.
I was impressed with Agbonlahor’s performance in this match actually. He was always looking at driving on, speeding up the play and making dangerous diagonal runs, which ultimately caused Rangers all sorts of problems. If he could do this week-in week-out, he could be Villa’s star-man. Although, his work-rate and approach can, at times, be questionable.
On 58 minutes, Andreas Weimann, who was been a key part of Paul Lambert’s team, converted a ferocious shot from the edge of the box to give Villa Park some newfound hope. However, QPR didn’t let that strike get the better of them and Andros Townsend, who scored a stunner in last weeks’ tie against Sunderland, levelled the scoring. His driving effort took the slightest of deflections off Ronald Vlaar’s boot to wrong-foot Brad Guzan in the Villa goal.
However, that wasn’t the end of the drama. Some terrific work by Weimann on the by-line enabled him to slot a pass into the path of the on-running Benteke, who coolly passed into the open net with all but ten minutes remaining.
A few weeks ago now I mentioned that I felt Queens Park Rangers had enough about them to survive in the Premier League, although I now simply feel that they have left themselves with too much to do. No doubt Aston Villa will take confidence from this vital win and, if they can keep up these levels of performances, they may just stay up.
Southampton 3 Liverpool 1
Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton supplied the goods as they stunned in-form Liverpool at St Marys. The Saints got off to the best possible start as after six minutes, Morgan Schneiderlin steered home after he was played through by Jay Rodriquez. Rickie Lambert, who didn’t make Roy Hodgson’s England squad, doubled their lead, sending a message out to the England manager what he’s missing out on. His free-kick took a heavy deflection off of the Reds’ wall to fool Brad Jones in goal after thirty-three minutes.
Former Inter Milan playmaker Philippe Coutinho pulled one back for the visitors before the interval, calmly slotting home after being presented a rebound as a Daniel Sturridge effort was blocked.
The Saints put in a hardworking shift against a Liverpool side who have won four out of their last four games in all competitions. They were once again rewarded for their efforts as Steven Gerrard’s lapse in concentration in the centre of the park set-up the Saints for a counter-attack. Jay Rodriquez danced his way through the Liverpool defence, his initial shot saved by Jones; however the rebound fell kindly to the former Burnley man who then tucked away.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers said after the defeat: “It certainly wasn’t how we have been playing in the past few weeks.
“We didn’t get going until it was 2-0 down. We conceded poor goals which has been unlike us and we are disappointed at that.”
The final game of this week’s column saw a depleted Man City side concede everything but the Premier League title.
The Blues, without influential players such as YayaTouré, Sergio Ag?ero and Vincent Kompany, struggled to get a foothold of this match.
Everton, on the other hand, were superb. They pressed the ball and never gave City a moment on the ball which evidently presented the Toffees with some wonderful opportunities. Their first goal was courtesy of Leon Osman. It was a delightful strike from distance which gave custodian Joe Hart no chance behind the sticks. City then had a couple of chances, although Carlos Tevez and co. couldn’t take advantage.
Everton were reduced to ten-men early in the second-half as Steven Pienaar picked up a second-booking for a lunge on Man City midfielder Javi Garcia. That didn’t phase the home-side and, in second-half stoppage time, Nikica Jelavic converting an impressive counter-attacking move.
That means that City now sit fifteen points behind leaders Manchester United, after they saw off Reading at Old Trafford. It’s now all but over.
My Team of the Week