Well, it was probably the most exciting Aston Villa match of the season, but it was a nightmare to watch for Villa supporters. The back-and-forth 3-3 draw with Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday at Villa Park was nerve-racking until the final whistle and leaves Villa's Premier League status in the balance.
Based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best -- here are the match ratings, along with stats and analysis, of the Aston Villa players from Tuesday's showdown with QPR.
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 4
Key Stat: More goals allowed (3) than saves (2).
Is it time for Shay Given? It's a question worth asking after another less-than-assured performance from Guzan. Look, Guzan has been great for the club for a few years now, but he just isn't making big saves at the moment. QPR's first goal, a close-range header from Matt Phillips went right over the American as he fell to the ground. And the third goal went straight through his legs on a low strike by Charlie Austin. Even the second Rangers goal wasn't unsaveable, a flicked header from Clint Hill. Don't be shocked if Guzan sits on the bench soon; he's not exactly covering himself in glory lately.
RB: Leandro Bacuna, Rating: 5
Key Stat: Zero successful tackles.
Bacuna had a typical Bacuna game at right back: energetic in attack, terrible in defense. He rampaged down the right wing, especially in the first half. But when QPR pushed back in the second half, Bacuna's defensive vulnerabilities resulted in him being subbed off. Would be great as a right wing back if Villa ever go to a 3-5-2, but it's hard to justify his selection at full back in a four-man back line.
CB: Ron Vlaar, Rating: 4
Key Stat: Five clearances.
A pretty tame return to the starting lineup for Vlaar. Had a lot of covering to do with Bacuna as his right back and played numerous decent long balls up to Benteke, but just didn't put in the defensive performance Villa needed from the Dutchman. Outmuscled by Zamora a few times, missed his header on Hill's goal and was nowhere near Austin -- you know, the guy you definitely shouldn't leave alone in the box -- for QPR's third. Bring back Okore?
CB: Ciaran Clark, Rating: 4
Key Stat: Lost four aerial duels.
Rare poor performance from Villa's other center back as well, Ciaran Clark. Struggled in the air against Zamora and Austin, and allowed Clint Hill to score with a header from a corner to level the match at 2. Didn't seem to have any chemistry with Vlaar, and left in loads of bad positions because the Villa full backs were putrid.
LB: Kieran Richardson, Rating: 3
Key Stat: Two failed tackles.
Just a nightmare. Embarrassing performance defensively from Richardson. Had a few alright combinations with Delph down the left, but just was dominated by QPR right winger Matt Phillips, most memorably on the third goal. Shouldn't start again this season anywhere for Villa but especially at left back. He simply can't defend.
CDM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 6
Key Stat: Five successful tackles.
Pretty solid performance from Sanchez, who broke up play well and was even complimented by Martin Tyler at one point for wanting the ball and having confidence with it. Made an incredible tackle that sprung the counter attack for Villa's second goal. A few sloppy passes, as always with him, but an overall strong performance from the Colombian.
CM: Tom Cleverley, Rating: 5
Key Stat: No completed forward passes in the final third.
This was pretty much the typical Tom Cleverley performance: active and tidy in midfield, wanted to drive the team forward, popped up in some nice positions, but in the end, with no completed forward passes in the final third, he didn't do enough to help his team score goals. Was subbed off when Villa went behind, rightfully so.
CM: Fabian Delph, Rating: 5
Key Stat: One shot attempt, which was blocked.
After being largely at fault for Villa's three conceded goals at Manchester United, it was particularly frustrating that QPR's early opening goal was the result of Delph letting his mark at the time, Phillips, ghost in behind him for a free header. After that, Delph had a decent game, which was rather impressive because he had Kieran Richardson playing near him, but he still wasn't involved as much as you'd like in the attack. Got an assist on Benteke's first, but the hard work was mostly done by the Belgian.
CAM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 6
Key Stat: 4-for-4 on take-ons.
Promising first Premier League start for Grealish, who completed 25-of-27 passes and led the tip of the Aston Villa midfield diamond with confidence and style. He seems to be getting stronger physically without losing his quickness, flair and ability to beat defenders. Couldn't quite find enough space to make an impact with a long-range shot or killer pass, but he always had the QPR defense on edge. Unlucky to be substituted.
ST: Gabby Agbonlahor, Rating: 7
Key Stat: That assist.
Very nice performance from a player that has been pretty good under Tim Sherwood. I mentioned how he needed to develop a chemistry with Benteke after the two weren't quite on the same page at Manchester United, and boy did he ever. The flick pass by Agbonlahor that sent Benteke on his way for the second goal was amazing and took guts with a QPR defender clattering into him, and his overall performance -- running at defenders, reading Benteke's flicks, etc. -- was quality. Need more of that going forward.
ST: Christian Benteke, Rating: 9
Key Stat: Second career Aston Villa hat-trick.
Not much to say except that Christian Benteke may have saved Aston Villa from relegation with this performance. His first goal was pretty fortunate, a deflected effort on a tame strike. The second was coolness personified, running 50 yards with the ball before checking back to his right foot and then sliding the ball into the bottom left corner. And the third; well, the third was just a bloody brilliant free kick. Who knew Benteke had that in him? I thought N'Zogbia was brought on for set pieces, but the Belgian took it and bagged his third with a rocket off the post, giving Villa a point and more importantly taking two points away from QPR. He also won 12 aerial duels and created three chances. Man of the Match.
CAM: Joe Cole, Rating: 4
Key Stat: 50 percent passing (6-for-12)
Didn't do enough to justify replacing Jack Grealish, who was having a solid game. Missed a half-chance late. I respect what Joe Cole has done in his career, but I don't see what Tim Sherwood sees that results in Cole getting in games when Carles Gil can't even make the bench.
RB: Matthew Lowton, Rating: 6
Key Stat: Two chances created.
Wasn't in the game long, but really helped Villa make waves down the right in the final 10 minutes. Nearly set up a winning goal, but Joe Cole couldn't find the right touch to steer Lowton's cross towards the goal.
RM: Charles N'Zogbia, Rating: 6
Key Stat: One foul drawn.
Fair play to Charles for making an impact in such a short amount of time. Drew a foul in a dangerous area, then allowed Benteke to take the free kick, which he fired in for the equalizing goal. Also had some nice play down the right wing in stoppage time but couldn't create another chance.
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