Sherwood hails Villa's hat-trick hero Benteke

Tim Sherwood waxed lyrical over Christian Benteke's performance in the 3-3 draw against QPR and believes the striker will be crucial in Aston Villa's battle against relegation.

The Belgium international was in superb form through the exhilarating contest at Villa Park and netted a stunning free-kick seven minutes from time to level the score and ensure QPR did not climb above Villa into 17th in the Premier League.

Benteke had earlier scored twice to cancel out Matt Phillips' early opener, only for goals from Clint Hill and Charlie Austin to put Chris Ramsey's men back in front.

Sherwood was full of praise for Benteke, who has now scored seven in his last five league matches, but lamented Villa's poor defending.

"Christian Benteke was very good," he told BBC Sport. 

"The second goal especially was excellent. We need him between now and the end of the season but it was disappointing to give away scruffy goals."

Sherwood was disappointed to have to settle for a draw, but feels the point may prove crucial come the end of the season.

"It is disappointing. QPR took their chances at the right times.

"We are not equipped unfortunately to go anywhere and dig out a result, we have to play open. We have good footballers who entertain the crowd.

"It might be a very important point, only time will tell but we need to win games. It is a point in the right direction, though."