Christian Benteke’s late spot-kick sealed Aston Villa a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night to give a jubilant Tim Sherwood his first victory in charge and lift the club out of the Premier League relegation zone in the process.
After a cagey opening, the game sparked into life when Gabriel Agbonlahor saw goal-line technology rule out his 14th-minute effort, with proof needed that the whole of the ball had not crossed the line following a Ben Foster fumble.
Villa would make the breakthrough just eight minutes later, however, when Agbonlahor burst through the West Brom defence following Benteke’s headed flick-on, before firing past Foster to give the home side the lead and end his 14-game goal drought.
The long-serving Villain could have had a hat-trick in the first-half, as Sherwood’s men dominated proceedings, but West Brom came out of the break with fresh impetus and eventually found the equaliser when Saido Berahino headed in Chris Brunt’s corner in the 66th-minute.
It served to set up a dramatic finish at Villa Park, as, with just second remaining of stoppage-time, Foster capped a performance riddled with errors by fumbling a clearance and then rushing out to bring down an advancing Matthew Lowton in the box.
Benteke, who had netted just twice in 18 league games prior to the match, kept his cool to slide in the penalty in front of an ecstatic Holte End crowd and give Villa three points for the first time since 7 December.
Sherwood celebrated wildly on the pitch at the final whistle, jokingly checking his pulse as he left his technical area, with the win moving Villa up to 17th-place in the table with 10 fixtures remaining.
The West Midlands rivals are set go at it again in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash, but their second encounter will be hard-pressed to match the first for late drama.