Villa 3-2 QPR media watch [17.03.13]: Bumper match reports
Sunday Mirror: Aston Villa should have been dead and buried. But good fortune and a stirring second-half performance meant Paul Lambert's men took a giant step towards safety - and may well have left QPR with too much to do now. Villa manager Lambert can thank goalkeeper Brad Guzan and forward Andreas Weimann for helping the club to their first back-to-back win in 67 games. Guzan kept Villa in the game during the first 45 minutes, and it was the brilliant Weimann who inspired the crucial turnaround. Villa made the most of Gabriel Agbonlahor's undeserved leveller, before Weimann netted a second and then set up Christian Benteke's winner.
Sunday Telegraph: This had the grand sweep, the enveloping tension, the epic drama of a winner-takes-all last game of the season. Even though it is still March, it felt, throughout every second of every minute, as if it could be decisive. At the end, after Rangers defender and captain Clint Hill hammered a final chance narrowly over the crossbar with the last kick of the game, with bodies strewn all around, Villa manager Paul Lambert leapt uncontrollably into the air. In the opposite dugout, Harry Redknapp stood as if frozen in time. Earlier his assistant, Joe Jordan, had clashed with Lambert - "Scottish banter," the latter later growled - and, on that final whistle, four Rangers players collapsed to the turf and this fine old stadium erupted in euphoria for the home fans and disbelief for the visitors. Villa are now an extremely healthy seven points clear of Rangers, level with Sunderland, and six clear of third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic, albeit having played two games more. Their prospects of survival have risen sharply with back-to-back wins following the victory over Reading last weekend.
Observer: Paul Lambert's celebrations on the touchline said it all. Jumping up and down and climbing all over his assistant, Ian Culverhouse, the Villa manager exuded a mixture of joy and relief when Christian Benteke registered his 17th goal of the season to vanquish Queens Park Rangers and lift the Midlands club six points clear of the relegation zone. An absorbing game swung one way and then the other as Villa recovered from a dismal first-half performance, when they fell behind to a goal from Jermaine Jenas and were extremely fortunate to go in on level terms, to secure back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since May 2011. For QPR, there was only bitter disappointment. Harry Redknapp was left to rue their failure to turn their overwhelming superiority before the interval into more goals. Anchored to the foot of the table and seven points adrift of a safe position, QPR's hopes of survival were dealt a huge blow on a dramatic afternoon. Gabriel Agbonlahor's equaliser in first-half injury time was the turning point, with the forward's header changing the complexion of this match.
Mail on Sunday: This was the thriller at the Villa - a five-goal feast of excitement and incidents that underlined the sort of commitment and character which make some games special. And if it was no consolation to QPR boss Harry Redknapp that his team took nothing from a game they should have had wrapped up by half-time. "In the first half it was the best we've played since I arrived,' he said. "It was so one-sided it wasn't true. We could've been four or five up. Villa were lucky to be in the game. The players are sick but we've got to pick ourselves up. There are games to be won and plenty of points to play for. It's going to be tough but four wins and a couple of draws could still do it for us." For Villa manager Paul Lambert it was three points he could never have dreamed of when his team were struggling before the break. But he emphasised the significance of the result, saying: "We've got tough games to come but this win has made everybody at the club feel good."
Sunday Mercury: There won't exactly be champagne celebrations if Villa do manage to avoid relegation this season. But you can be sure Villa's players will be queuing up to buy Brad Guzan a thank-you pint if they complete their survival mission. And just for good measure Christian Benteke won't go short if he decides to raise a glass at the end of this term, too. The pair have been inspirational all season and it was only fitting that they should both play their part in securing Villa's most important victory of the season against QPR. As it happened Benteke got the winning goal after Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann had struck inbetween goals from Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend. And Guzan made three world-class saves in the first-half to prevent QPR from running away with it as they had charged into an early lead. With so many twists and turns during the 90 minutes it is hard to believe there are still eight games remaining.
Independent on Sunday: Villa Park exploded in celebration at the final whistle. Paul Lambert, the Aston Villa manager, was out on the pitch embracing his team while Queens Park Rangers players lay sprawled, wondering what might have been. The visitors had dominated the opening half, and even in the fifth minute of added time so nearly snatched a point as Clint Hill's shot flashed just over the bar. The margins could not have been more narrow but this archetypal game of two halves had finally swung Villa's way with Christian Benteke's close-range winner after 81 minutes opening precious daylight between Lambert's side and the bottom three. As against Reading last weekend, Villa had come from behind as they posted successive league victories for the first time since May 2011. It felt like a hugely significant victory, creating a six-point gap between them and 18th-placed Wigan, while keeping QPR bottom.
BBC Sport: Aston Villa came from behind for the second week running to win and move six points clear of the relegation zone while keeping QPR rooted to the bottom. Ex-Villa loanee Jermaine Jenas opened the scoring as he slid in a rebound. Gabriel Agbonlahor headed the hosts level in first-half added time, seconds after QPR had hit the post, before Andreas Weimann put Villa in front. Andros Townsend's deflected effort levelled the game, but Christian Benteke then slotted a vital winner.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.