West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa

Peter Odemwingie

Peter Odemwingie scored a dramatic 83rd-minute equaliser as West Bromwich Albion came from 2-0 down to deny struggling Aston Villa a crucial win.

Christian Benteke's turn and shot from outside the penalty area put Villa ahead before Gabriel Agbonlahor doubled the lead with a composed finish.

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Villa should have won - Lambert

But Chris Brunt's 20-yard effort sparked a fine Baggies fightback.

Odemwingie levelled from inside the six-yard area after Villa failed to clear a corner.

Although a point was enough to lift the visitors out of the relegation zone, it was a familiar story for Paul Lambert and his players.

Not for the first time this season Villa failed to secure three points after leading 2-0, and they remain in trouble near the bottom of the table.

In an absorbing West Midlands derby, they raced into a two-goal lead on the back of a gutsy performance full of youthful exuberance against a West Brom side that struggled to get going until the second half.

Benteke opened the scoring with a glorious 12th-minute finish, the Belgian producing a superb turn and strike from outside the area after Albion's defence had backed off.

West Brom were a shadow of the side that started the season so well, and fell further behind when Agbonlahor drilled a left-foot finish beyond Ben Foster after turning inside Gareth McAuley.

Then Baggies keeper Foster produced arguably the turning point of the match when he denied substitute Eric Lichaj, a fifth-minute replacement for injured defender Nathan Baker, from making it 3-0 before half-time.

Brunt's 49th-minute side-foot finish in off the post from 20 yards began Albion's comeback, Odemwingie twice going close to scoring before rescuing a point with seven minutes remaining.

The striker, who was not called up by Nigeria for the Africa Cup of Nations, capped an excellent second-half display after turning inside the six-yard box to hammer the ball into the roof of the net following a header by McAuley from a corner.

The result at least stopped the rot for Villa after four defeats in their previous six league games.

Yet they are without a win in six matches and face two important ties against Bradford in the Capital One Cup semi-final and Millwall in the FA Cup before returning to league action against fellow strugglers Newcastle on 29 January.

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Clarke pleased with derby point

But Lambert's side face a battle to stay up until they learn to see out games.

West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke:

"We had a chance to regroup at a half-time. We knew the third goal would be crucial in the game and it came to us.

"We then had the momentum to get back in the game. At the end we were the team on the front foot and chasing the win.

"Villa were dangerous on the counter-attack, but if we're being honest the first half performance wasn't good enough and we should be happy with a point."

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert:

"We should have been four up. Some of the football we played was excellent. We gave that game a right good go, but we should have been out of sight in the first half.

"My players have taken a lot of knocks, but I have nothing but praise for them. They give me everything they've got. And the fans are right behind us.

"But you have to give West Brom credit. They haven't lost many games at home."

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