Sherwood counting on Benteke
Published 08/04/2015 | 06:31
Boss Tim Sherwood backed Christian Benteke to fire Aston Villa to safety after the striker's crucial hat-trick saved a point against QPR.
The forward's treble - his first in two years - clinched a pulsating 3-3 draw with their drop rivals as Villa edged further clear of the bottom three.
Villa are three points above the Barclays Premier League drop zone and denied QPR the chance to leapfrog them in the table.
Defeat would have left Villa in the relegation zone and behind QPR but Benteke struck a 25-yard free-kick with seven minutes left to save them and complete his treble.
The Belgium international has seven goals in seven games under Sherwood and the boss hopes he can maintain his form to keep Villa up.
He said: "That's the plan.
"It doesn't come much better than that. He's a good player, I have always said it and he's in a rich vein of form.
"It's fantastic for him to score the goals, it's just a shame we couldn't get the three points.
"It's not about what you deserve, it's about what you get and we got one point.
"This could be a vital point come the end of the season in the end, when you go so late into the game and Christian has had to pull that out the bag we're grateful."
But Sherwood insisted Villa should have won after Benteke's first-half double, cancelling out Matt Phillips' opener, gave them a 2-1 lead at the break.
He said: "It's disappointing when you dominate a football match like that, the ref should have stopped it at half-time.
"I thought we tired in the second half but that's to be expected and two of those back four have trained about four times in eight weeks. We dropped off a little bit too deep and couldn't keep that pressure on them.
"But anyone who has seen that football match knows it shouldn't have been close."
Rangers hit back after the break through Clint Hill and Charlie Austin, the latter netting with just 12 minutes left.
They have taken four points from their last two away games after winning just once on the road this season before Saturday's 4-1 win at West Brom.
The draw, though, left them two points from safety having played a game more and boss Chris Ramsey admitted he was nervous after Austin's goal.
He said: "It's a long time, it's heart attack time for managers that. You can see you're going to win but you know there's a chance anything can happen, a free-kick, a corner or a bit of magic.
"I thought we could (hang on) but a free-kick is a free-kick, at that stage most of their attacking options had been exhausted.
"I'm disappointed if I'm being honest. But before the game if someone said we'd get four points from the last two games we probably would have taken that."
Rangers were seeking back-to-back away wins in the top flight for the first time since 1995 but Ramsey targeted home victories to keep them up.
They host Chelsea on Sunday before welcoming West Ham and Newcastle to Loftus Road.
He said: "I don't know what we need but we're probably going to have to win three games. I don't know what the points total will be but our two home games are going to be very important after Chelsea.
"We have got a couple of very difficult ones in Liverpool and Manchester City and then we have the potential cup final against Leicester on the last day of the season.
"Most teams would take being in it right to the end and then roll the dice, you don't want to start being detached because it's a big mountain to climb."
Meanwhile, claims Carles Gil left Villa Park after not being named in the matchday squad are unfounded.
The midfielder was pitchside before the game and watched the match in the players' box.