Tuesday 24 October 2017

N'Zogbia finds range to foil Cisse's perfect start

Aston Villa 2 QPR 2

John Curtis

Djibril Cisse proved an instant hit for QPR and Mark Hughes last night when his debut goal almost set up the visitors for an unlikely smash-and-grab raid at Villa Park.

The well-travelled French striker scored after only 12 minutes before a Stephen Warnock own goal doubled their lead before half-time.

Darren Bent's 100th Premier League goal on the stroke of half-time gave Villa more than a glimmer of hope, but the home side were grateful in the end to Charles N'Zogbia's 79th minute equaliser to rescue a deserved point after a frustrating night. Cisse only obtained final clearance to play 90 minutes before kick-off after his move from Lazio, but he quickly made an impact with a superb finish.

Then Warnock, under no pressure, headed a centre from another QPR newcomer Taye Taiwo past Villa keeper Shay Given.

QPR boss Hughes included his three new transfer window signings, striker Cisse, left-back Taye Taiwo and centre-back Nedum Onuoha, in the starting line-up.

Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor was ruled out with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Charles N'Zogbia, who had missed the last two games with a heel problem.

Villa were the first to settle and Alan Hutton's dangerous low cross just eluded Bent. Cisse threatened for the first time when he outstripped Stephen Warnock and sent over a deep cross and there were boos from Villa's own fans towards Hutton when he conceded a needless corner.

There was an element of luck about the build-up to Cisse's goal on 12 minutes with Shaun Wright-Phillips scuffing his shot into the path of Cisse. But the finish was clinical as he drilled a low shot across Given into the far corner before celebrating with a trademark somersault.

Villa tried to retaliate and Ciaran Clark shot just wide after a neat chip from Robbie Keane while the QPR 'keeper clung onto a low Bent drive. Cisse was looking sharp and he skated away from Richard Dunne only to over-hit a cross aimed at the unmarked Wright-Phillips.

Keane was trying to inject some life into Villa and a first-time pass was just too fierce for the run of Stephen Ireland into the QPR box. But after 29 minutes an own goal from Warnock doubled QPR's lead.

There appeared little danger when Taiwo delivered a deep cross but Warnock inexplicably headed the ball back across Given into the far corner of the net. It was Warnock's second costly error in three home games after his blunder had handed Swansea their opening goal in a 2-0 win last month.

Keane was unfortunate when his shot deflected off Petrov and struck the woodwork with Paddy Kenny well beaten. Bent got up well to direct a header past the post but the England striker scored his landmark goal in injury time when he turned home a low cross from Hutton.

Villa started the second half on the offensive and their pressure told as former defender Luke Young was booked for bringing down N'Zogbia.

Villa had strong claims for a penalty rejected when Shaun Derry had his arm raised when blocking an effort from Clark. Kenny got his body behind another Petrov free-kick.

The home side continued to enjoy the lion's share of play and their efforts were finally rewarded on 79 minutes when N'Zogbia got on the end of some good work from Petrov to convert from 12 yards and spare Villa's blushes.

They then pushed forward in search of a winner and Kenny did well to twice deny N'Zogbia in the frantic closing minutes.

Irish Independent

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