Sports

Austin powers QPR to crucial victory over Aston Villa

LONDON: Charlie Austin eased the pressure on Harry Redknapp as the QPR forward struck twice to lift his side off the bottom of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday.

Redknapp’s side secured just their second victory of the season, and their first since August, thanks to the predatory finishing of Austin, who netted in either half to see off lacklustre Villa at Loftus Road.

Austin’s heroics ended QPR’s three-match losing run and helped the west London club move above Austin’s former club Burnley into 19th place, within two points of the teams directly above the relegation zone as they try to scramble to safety following a disastrous start to their first season back in the top-flight.

It was a crucial result for Redknapp, who had endured reports that QPR owner Tony Fernandes was considering sacking him after his team’s dismal run.

While Redknapp earned at least a momentary reprieve, the pressure is mounting on Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Despite a positive opening to the campaign, Villa have slumped down the table in recent weeks and are now only three points above QPR after suffering a fifth successive defeat without scoring a goal.

Facing a Villa team in the midst of one of the worst runs in their history eventually proved a welcome tonic for QPR, who had suffered an agonising loss with virtually the last kick of the game against Liverpool last weekend.

Yet it was the visitors who started the brighter as Ashley Westwood and Carlos Sanchez both tested QPR goalkeeper Robert Green in the early stages.

Redknapp’s men broke the deadlock from the next attack following a simple long ball forward in the 17th minute

Former Villa stalwart Richard Dunne’s angled pass out of defence was chested down by Bobby Zamora perfectly into the path of his strike partner Austin, whose long-range drive flashed past Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Villa should have equalised on 55 minutes when Ciaran Clark could only poke wide from close range after being picked out by Christian Benteke’s downward header from Westwood’s deep free-kick.

But Redknapp sent on Junior Hoilett from the bench and the Canadian winger almost made an immediate impact but saw a clever shot hit the far post.

With the momentum back in QPR’s favour, it wasn’t long until Austin killed off Villa in the 69th minute with a clinical finish at the near post after he beat Ron Vlaar to Eduardo Vargas’ low cross- AFP

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