QUEENS PARK RANGERS 2 ASTON VILLA 0
QPR manager Harry Redknapp pledged to recall out-of-favour Adel Taarabt after an agricultural yet vital win wrenched them off the foot of the Premier League last night.
Clinical finishes in each half from Charlie Austin inflicted Aston Villa’s fifth straight defeat, earned only Rangers’ second win of the season and eased pressure on Redknapp.
His position was thrown into doubt last week when chairman Tony Fernandes issued him and Taarabt with a rebuke for the pair’s public squabble. Redknapp insists his row with the Morocco midfielder over his weight is “finished” but reiterated his insistence that Taarabt earn a recall by first proving his fitness.
“Absolutely he can still play a part in the future, if he gets himself fit. All I ask people to do is come in every day, train, be thankful for being a professional footballer, work hard,” he said.
“God gave him a fantastic talent, I just hope he doesn’t waste it. If he’s fit and ready to play, he’s a great talent. That’s all I want to do — just get him fit to run like the boys tonight.”
Victory left QPR 19th, but three points clear of Burnley. Free-falling Villa are 15th, just two points off the relegation zone.
Less than a quarter into the campaign this had already assumed the air of a relegation battle, with QPR averaging half a point per game and Villa without a goal in seven hours.
Yet it was the visitors, through Ashley Westwood and Carlos Sanchez pot-shots, who looked more likely to score before Austin struck his third of the season in the 17th minute.
Co-target man Bobby Zamora chested down Richard Dunne’s long punt, and Austin drilled a low first-time effort that bisected Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark and fizzed past American stopper Brad Guzan.
Christian Benteke posed Villa’s biggest threat but the striker wastefully glanced a header wide and was then beaten to Andreas Weimann’s deflected cross by a pouncing Rob Green.
Defender Clark squandered a great chance to level just after half-time when he hooked wide from Benteke’s knock-down, and Austin soon punished the miss.
On-loan wing-back Mauricio Isla scurried down right and whipped a low cross to the near post, where Austin got ahead of Vlaar and deftly touched past Guzan.
Villa’s ineptitude was distilled when Benteke and substitute Joe Cole challenged for the same header, though Green had to make a late double save from Tom Cleverley and Clark.