By AARON CRANFORD
In an important English Premier League relegation battle, Belgian international Christian Benteke carried Aston Villa on his back and safely out of danger. For now.
The Villa striker netted a hat trick, bagging his third with less than 10 minutes to play. QPR midfielder Matthew Phillips arguably had as good of a day as the Belgian, scoring the first goal of the affair in the 7th minute and assisting on his team’s other two goals in the second half.
Benteke scored his second in the 33rd minute, giving the Villa faithful all of the momentum and a 2-1 lead heading into the break, but QPR came storming out in the second half. Clint Hill scored in the 55th minute while Charlie Austin gave The Hoops the 3-2 lead at Villa Park.
But Benteke would go on to score a free kick a few yards outside of the top of the box, his best of the night. On the outside looking in, Villa are now separated from QPR, who sit at the top of the relegation zone, by three points.
Here is more from Tuesday’s action in Europe’s top leagues:
GERMAN DFB POKAL
Second-placed Wolfsburg and Borrussia Dortmund advanced from the quarterfinals of the 72nd edition of the German cup competition on Tuesday.
While SC Freiburg made Wolfsburg’s night tough, the second-best German club in 2015 was awarded a penalty kick late into the match. Ricardo Rodríguez stepped up to send them through to the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Neven Subotic opened the account for Dortmund in the 19th minute in their 3-2 affair against TSG Hoffenheim. While Hoffe managed to score two goals in six minutes from Kevin Volland and Roberto Firmino, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalized in the beginning of the second half. The teams would battle it out into extra time until substitute Sebastian Kehl blasted a rocket past a diving Oliver Baumann and into the net, sending BVB into the semifinals.
SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISION
Atletico Madrid won’t back down with only weeks remaining in Liga BBVA action. The Madrid side easily handled Real Sociedad, topping David Moyes’ side 2-0 in front of more than 42,000 fans.
The match ended basically before it could begin, as Mikel Gonzalez scored an own goal in the 2nd minute while Antoine Griezmann tallied his 16th of the season in the 10th minute. With the win, Atletico still sit in third on the Spanish table, behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.
More Liga BBVA scores:
Eibar 1, Malaga 0.
Levante 1, Sevilla 2.
ITALIAN COPPA ITALIA
Down 2-1 entering Tuesday, Juventus thoroughly dominated Fiorentina, 3-0, to reach the Italian cup competition’s final with an aggregate scoreline of 4-2.
From the opening whistle, the Torino side bossed the match. Alessandro Matri claimed the first in the 21st while Roberto Pereyra and Leonardo Bonucci sealed the deal as time wore on.
Juventus will await the winner of Lazio or Napoli, which is scheduled to be played on Wednesday.
FRENCH LIGUE 1
AS Monaco and Montipellier played to a scoreless draw in front of 5,676 at The Stade Louis II.
Monaco had the better side on the night, attempting six more shots. But the third-placed Montipellier maintained their two-point lead above their rival on the night, safely holding onto the last spot to have the chance to enter into the Champions League for 2015-2016.