Queens Park Rangers tied 0-0 at Sunderland in Harry Redknapp’s first game as manager of the Premier League club, while Aston Villa beat Reading 1-0 to move out of the relegation zone.
QPR remains the league’s only winless team after earning just its second away point of the season. Former Tottenham boss Redknapp was named the west London club’s manager Nov. 25, a day after the firing of Mark Hughes, who picked up just four points from 13 matches.
“I thought we deserved the point tonight,” Redknapp said in an interview with Sky Sports. “I was really pleased.”
Christian Benteke’s goal in the 80th minute gave Aston Villa the win over Reading. The victory moved Villa out of the three relegation spots at the bottom of the standings and kept Reading right above last-place QPR.
“It was a scrappy game but we’ll take the three points and move on,” Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor told Sky Sports.
At the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, backup goalkeeper Robert Green helped Redknapp avoid an opening-game loss.
Green replaced Julio Cesar to start the second half when the Brazilian hurt his groin, and kept the game scoreless by making a one-handed block of Steven Fletcher’s header in the 64th minute.
The draw extends QPR’s winless away run in the league to 21 games over the past two seasons. Even though QPR is the only team in England’s top four divisions without a victory, the new manager was happy with what he saw from his new squad. He saw QPR lose 3-1 at Manchester United last weekend.
“I thought there were some good points to come out of it,” Redknapp said. “I feel more optimistic tonight than I did on Saturday.”
Sunderland has won just once in eight games and remains 16th in the 20-team league with 13 points.
At Villa Park, Benteke rose to head Ashley Woodward’s corner kick past Adam Federici with 10 minutes to give his team just its second home win in the past 11 league games. The victory allows Villa to leap over Southampton out of the drop zone.
“We need to win games and it’s a big relief for us,” Villa midfielder Barry Bannon said. “There’s been a lot of people talking about us being in the bottom three and it’s hard to take.
Reading, which had a four-match unbeaten run ended by a loss to Wigan over the weekend, remains next-to-last with nine points.