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12:41 2nd February 2012
By  @OfficialQPR


Aston Villa came from two goals behind to earn a share of the spoils with the R's. 

QPR enjoyed the perfect start when Djibril Cisse put the visitors in front just 12 minutes into his Rangers debut. 

Stephen Warnock then put through his own net in the 29th minute to double the R's advantage, with Mark Hughes' men appearing to be on their way to back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since December 1995. 

Darren Bent, however, reduced the arrears when he struck his 100th Premier League goal on the stroke of half-time - and that shaped how the second period would pan out. 

Indeed, Villa dominated proceedings after the break and, after Charles N'Zogbia equalised for the hosts on 79 minutes, they laid siege on the R's goal. 

But Rangers held on - that despite four minutes of second-half stoppage time - to earn a point. 

Hughes handed debuts to three new signings at Villa Park - and made five changes in total from the team that lined up against Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend. 

Cisse, Nedum Onuoha and Taye Taiwo all began for Rangers, while there were also places in the starting XI for Shaun Derry and Rob Hulse - making his first QPR start since April. 

Paddy Kenny was in goal for Rangers, in a now accustomed 4-4-2 formation under Hughes. 

Former Villan Luke Young, Onuoha, Anton Ferdinand and Taiwo made up Rangers' back four. Jamie Mackie and Shaun Wright-Phillips occupied the wide positions in midfield, with skipper Joey Barton an Derry in the middle. Cisse was partnered by Hulse in attack. 

Ironically, it was 35 years to the day that these two sides met in a semi-final first leg in the 1967 League Cup - a goalless draw at Loftus Road.

The R's, of course, would go on to win that particular competition and Hoops fans will no doubt remember our third round Carling Cup defeat of Villa back in September 2008. 

Damion Stewart's second-half header sealed a memorable victory in the Midlands. 

This time, it was the bread and butter of the league campaign, but a similar result would have been a timely tonic for QPR in the battle to beat the drop. Seven points separated these two prior to kick-off. 

The R's knew that a win would close the gap on hosts Villa and, with that, could increase the distance between themselves and the bottom three. 

The conditions were bitter but Rangers made a dream start, taking the lead after only 12 minutes. 

Neat interplay in midfield involving Derry and Mackie concluded with the ball finding Wright-Phillips, whose scuffed shot fell into the path of Cisse in the box. 

The R's debutant needed no second invitation thereafter, lashing an unstoppable drive into the left-hand corner of the net that left Villa keeper Shay Given with no chance.

A trademark somersault celebration from the French international front-man duly followed. 

The home side responded two minutes later, with Bent shooting straight at Kenny from just outside the penalty area. 

But Rangers - and Cisse - almost added a second goal under a minute later. Barton picked up possession down the left-hand channel and, when the Liverpudlian's clip into the box found Cisse at the back post, his downward volley was collected by Given. 

Play soon switched to the opposite end, where Ciaran Clark fired an effort into the hands of Kenny, following Stiliyan Petrov's knock-down. 

QPR's second goal of the night eventually arrived just short of the half-hour mark - that thanks to a helping hand from the home side. 

Wright-Phillips found the advancing Taiwo on the left and, when his looping centre fell to Warnock in the box, the Villa defender got his attempted cushioned header back to Given all wrong, diverting the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. 

Despite going two behind, Villa raised their performance as the half wore on. Rangers had Kenny to thank for a fine point-blank save from Richard Dunne's header on 33 minutes, following Petrov's corner from the right. 

Soon after, Robbie Keane saw an effort from the edge of the box deflect off Derry and crash back off the bar. 

Bent then saw a header go just wide after Alan Hutton's centre on 41 minutes - but the England hot-shot didn't spurn his next opportunity, halving the deficit on the stroke of half-time. 

Stephen Ireland and Keane combined to free Hutton down the right-hand side of the box, before the Scot's low centre was fired home by Bent. 

Villa continued to threaten at the start of the second period. Kenny was forced into a low stop to block away Petrov's stinging effort on 50 minutes, after the R's failed to clear their lines following a free-kick. 

Alex McLeish's side then had strong appeals for a penalty waived away, after Petrov's shot appeared to clatter against the outstretched arm of Derry in the box. 

The home side's strong start to the second half saw Rangers chief Hughes take action, with Tommy Smith brought on to replace Hulse.

However, the Villa siege continued. Kenny was forced into a superb low save to thwart Keane, before Rangers cleared the danger. 

At the other end, Taiwo's low shot from an acute angle was taken at the second attempt by Given, before Mackie somehow swiped at Wright-Phillips' cross-come-shot without connecting from close range.

But the R's were still defending for their lives. Bent was unlucky not to see his header creep in at the right-hand post, following Hutton's centre from the right. 

Villa's unrelenting pressure forced Hughes into another substitution in the 73rd minute, with Hogan Ephraim replacing Derry. 

That also saw QPR adopt a 4-1-4-1 formation. 

The change in personnel - and shape - couldn't halt the home side's revival, however, with Villa notching a deserved leveller 11 minutes from time. 

Ireland picked out Keane down the right and, when his cross found N'Zogbia at the back post, he drilled a low effort into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. 

Villa almost struck a winner with seven minutes left on the clock. Petrov's corner eventually fell to Bent, whose snap-shot was cleared off the line by Smith, before Keane's second effort was blocked away by Mackie for a corner. N'Zogbia's blast from 20 yards was then tipped away by Kenny four minutes from time. 

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