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Redknapp starts with a draw, Benteke grabs Villa winner

ESPN staff
November 27, 2012
Harry Redknapp saw his side get a draw at the Stadium of Light © PA Photos
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Harry Redknapp saw his QPR career get underway with a goalless away draw against Sunderland on Tuesday evening, as Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the night as Aston Villa consigned Reading to another defeat.

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Substitute Rob Green ensured Redknapp's rein as QPR boss started with a positive result after making a stunning save to deny Sunderland's Steven Fletcher and secure a 0-0 draw.

The former England keeper somehow clawed away the Scotland international's 64th-minute header on a night when Redknapp saw plenty to persuade him that his cause may not be a forlorn one.

Green replaced the injured Julio Cesar, who had earlier made a vital block to deny Fletcher, at the break and stood firm as the visitors turned in a spirited display at the Stadium of Light.

Home keeper Simon Mignolet also had to be at his best to keep out Sunderland old boy Djibril Cisse as well as Jamie Mackie, and he was relieved to see midfielder Stephane Mbia blast a long-range effort inches wide.

Ultimately, Redknapp's men left the north-east still without a league win this season, but with a fifth point of the campaign which extended the Black Cats' difficult run to just two wins in 21 outings.

Given the circumstances, it was never likely to be a classic, and on a night when Wearside was lashed by wind and rain once again, there was little genuine quality on show for much of a tight contest.

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert again excluded record signing Darren Bent but saw his replacement Christian Benteke score a late winner in the bottom-of-the-table 1-0 win over Reading at Villa Park.

The Belgium international ended a four-game run without a goal when he headed home an Ashley Westwood corner with 10 minutes remaining.

Villa's third win of the season moved them out of the Premier League bottom three in front of their lowest home league gate - 28,692 - for six years.

The game was not a classic but Villa deserved the three points after enjoying the bulk of possession and looking the more threatening. Bent was left out of Lambert's matchday plans for the second successive game, with rookie striker Jordan Bowery again preferred on the substitutes' bench.

Villa denied former Tottenham striker Bent had left the ground after being left out and he watched the game from an executive box.

Villa were forced to make a change after 24 minutes when left-back Enda Stevens limped out of the action to be replaced by Eric Lichaj, but enjoyed the majority of the first-half openings.

Nathan Baker flicked a Barry Bannan corner wide at the start of the second half and Ciaran Clark was not far off target with a header from the same source. But Reading came more into the game and Jason Roberts cut inside before seeing his shot blocked by the legs of Brad Guzan.

The game appeared to be heading for a stalemate but with 10 minutes left Benteke settled the issue. Lambert's £7million summer signing from Genk climbed above the Royals defence and his downward header flew past Federici.

The Villa boss could not contain his delight but knows there is still much work to be done before his young side banish fears of the drop.

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