This was a match between two teams who needed to win. Neither side could afford to make mistakes. It came as some surprise, then that the entire game seemed to be one giant mistake. Who could mishit their crosses and shots by the most? Who could make the most ridiculous giveaway in their own defensive third? The stupidest foul?
There were chances aplenty thanks to both sides creative strategy of turning the ball over at the slightest provocation. The first came after Barry Bannan decided to dribble through a player in his own penalty box, his bizarre decision resulting in a low cross that was nearly turned in by Hal Robson-Kanu before Adam le Fondre attempted an overhead kick which skidded well wide.
At the other end, Benteke received a Brett Holman cross in so much space that he might as well have been taking a penalty kick. The Belgian striker then completely mishit his shot and Adam Federici was able to collect with an easy save. Shortly thereafter, Benteke looked for redemption by playing in a brilliant cross for Andreas Wiemann, who was distracted by something shiny and blazed well over from eight yards.
The only event of any real impact in the first half came when Enda Stevens had his leg swipe by Robson-Kanu as both chased after a through ball, the injury forcing Villa to resort to deploying Eric Lichaj and his terrible facial hair at left back. Otherwise... well, as you might have gathered, it was sloppy.
The second wasn't a whole lot better. Le Fondre headed too high when he had a free header from a corner. Ciaran Clark failed to take advantage of a similar situation when Villa had a set piece of their own. Stephen Ireland and Marc Albrighton were deployed by Paul Lambert to change the match; Albrighton did so by hitting the worst cross in recorded history.
And then, finally, a breakthrough. Ashley Westwood took a corner, and Benteke leaped high in the air, heading the ball down and past a stranged Federici. 1-0 in the 80th minute, and all that was left was for Villa to hold the Reading attack at bay. They didn't have much of a problem -- the Royals pumped a few crosses into Brad Guzan's box, but they all came to nothing as the hosts escaped the relegation zone with a win.