Queens Park Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa in Harry Redknapp’s first home match in charge.
Redknapp’s return to Premier League management has attracted plenty of attention and the former Tottenham Hotspur manager was looking to guide QPR to their first win of the season.
The 65-year-old will have been pleased with what he saw from his side in the first hour but the Hoops lost momentum and Villa held out comfortably enough at Loftus Road.
QPR came out of the blocks quickly and enjoyed much early possession but fell behind to a well-struck shot from Brett Holman, his first goal for the club.
The lively Jamie Mackie restored parity with a glancing header, although an entertaining match was marred by a serious looking injury to Stephane Mbia who was stretchered off.
Redknapp made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Sunderland in his first match as QPR manager, with goalkeeper Robert Green starting in place of the injured Julio Cesar and Shaun Wright-Phillips coming in for Djibril Cisse in a five-man midfield.
Out-of-favour striker Darren Bent was back on the bench for Aston Villa after being left out of the previous two matchday squads. Paul Lambert also made two changes from the side that beat Reading on Tuesday. Enda Stevens missed out with an ankle injury, while Andreas Weimann dropped to the bench, with Eric Lichaj and Chris Herd coming into the starting eleven.
Villa took the lead in the eighth minute. Ashley Westwood found Holman on the edge of the area and the Australian let fly with a fierce effort that gave Green little chance in his first start since September.
But there was a vibrancy about QPR, and they were level 10 minutes later when Mackie rose to glance in a right-wing cross from Samba Diakite.
Wright-Phillips twice came close to giving QPR the head. The former Manchester City winger first found himself onside as he ran onto a fantastic long ball from Esteban Granero, but Brad Guzan thwarted him with a smart stop as the winger closed in on goal.
Wright-Phillips then got away down the right and smashed a low shot against the base of the post.
Moments earlier Mbia had gone down after running into Gabriel Agbonlahor and after several minutes of attention from the medics, he was stretchered off to be replaced by Shaun Derry.
Villa were dangerous going forward in the first 45 minutes and Green had to be on his mettle to turn away a low shot from Agbonlahor before the half drew to a close.
The second-half was one of few chances. Redknapp’s side started it promisingly but lost momentum in the final half-hour and Guzan’s goal was rarely threatened.
A fine first touch from Wright-Phillips saw him spin beyond the impressive Nathan Baker before seeing his shot deflected wide by Ciaran Clark.
Park Ji-Sung was introduced in place of the ineffectual Granero at the break and he came close after being played in down the left by Adel Taarabt. The South Korean’s shot was well saved by Guzan at the near post.
Guzan managed to get a hand on Taarabt’s header to force it onto the crossbar, and Armand Traore attempted a low shot which was easily dealt with by the American, but QPR failed to establish their first-half rhythm.
Villa came close to snatching it late on but substitute Karim El Ahmadi’s shot from the edge of the area bounced just wide.
Bent again failed to make an appearance for Villa which will only intensify speculation that he will be leaving the midlands club in January.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Nathan Baker: A commanding display from the young central defender in the face of lots of home pressure at Loftus Road.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS: Green 7; Traore 6, Hill 6, Nelsen 6, Bosingwa 7; Taarabt 6, Diakite 8, Granero 6, Mbia 6, Wright-Phillips 7; Mackie 8. Subs: Derry 6, Park 7, Hoilett 6.
ASTON VILLA: Guzan 7; Lowton 6, Clark 7, Baker 8, Lichaj 7, Westwood 6; Bannan 6; Herd 6, Holman 7, Agbonlahor 6; Benteke 7. Subs: El Ahmadi 6, Delph 6, Williams 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Aston Villa
- Queens Park Rangers
- Jamie Mackie