Brett Holman scored his first goal for Aston Villa as they battled to a draw against QPR in Harry Redknapp’s first home game at Loftus Road.
The Australia midfielder opened the scoring for Villa with a spectacular long-range effort early in the first half but QPR equalised shortly after with a bullet header from Jamie Mackie.
QPR had the better of the chances in the remainder of lively contest and Villa were indebted to goalkeeper Brad Guzan for a number of top-class saves.
Darren Bent was welcomed back into the fold – for this game at least – after manager Paul Lambert handed him a place on the substitutes’ bench although he did not get on the pitch.
Lambert made two changes to the starting line-up as Eric Lichaj came in for the injured Enda Stevens while Chris Herd replaced Andreas Weimann. Captain Ron Vlaar was ruled out with a calf injury.
Villa flew out the blocks and took the lead in the eighth minute thanks to a 20-yard screamer from Holman.
Ashley Westwood laid the ball into the path of Holman and it sat up for him to lash a half-volley with his left foot which the diving Robert Green got fingertips on but was unable to prevent from going into the net.
QPR equalised 10 minutes later with a fine goal from Mackie who got on the end of an inch-perfect cross from Samba Diakite and planted a powerful header into the bottom-left corner past Guzan.
Christian Benteke had the ball in the net shortly after when he got on the end of cross only to see the assistant referee flag for offside.
The frantic pace of the game did not lessen and QPR, who gained an injection of confidence from the goal, had two great chances to take the lead through QPR winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Esteban Granero dinked a beautiful ball over the top of the Villa defence in the 29th minute but Guzan was off his line in a flash to narrow the angle and block a Wright-Phillips’ shot.
Three minutes later Wright-Phillips burst down the right flank and drilled a low shot which beat Guzan but rebounded back out of the post, while Adel Taarabt tamely hit the rebound straight at the Villa keeper.
QPR were forced into a change before the interval when Stephane Mbia was left lying motionless after an accidental collision with Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Redknapp’s side were the dominant team immediately after the interval and Wright-Phillips continued to pose the main threat to the Villa defence as he spun Nathan Baker and saw his shot deflected past the post.
Ryan Nelsen brought a fine save out of Guzan with a hooked shot from the resulting corner in the 54th minute while the Villa keeper did brilliantly to parry a Ji-Sung Park shot shortly afterwards following Diakite’s rampaging run.
Another brilliant save from Guzan denied QPR in the 81st minute when Taarabt’s corner found the head of Nelsen but the American keeper tipped it on to the crossbar.
With Villa being overrun Lambert introduced Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi to give additional protection in front of a back five.
As a result the visitors barely threatened the opposition goal although El Ahmadi poked a shot wide of the post while Jose Bosingwa produced a last-ditch challenge to deny Benteke late on.
By Timothy Abraham