Graham's late show frustrates Villa
SWANSEA, Jan 1, 2013 (AFP) - Danny Graham frustrated Aston Villa's bid to climb clear of the relegation zone as the Swansea striker's last-gasp equaliser rescued a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday.
Villa were on course for a rare victory when Christian Benteke converted a penalty with only six minutes remaining after Andreas Weimann had earlier cancelled out Wayne Routledge's opener for Swansea.
But Paul Lambert's team, who had conceded 15 goals and scored none in their last three games, were unable to hold on as Graham volleyed home after a late goalmouth scramble.
Villa, who fielded an inexperienced team with an average age of just 23, climbed one place to 16th, but they are just two points above the Premier League relegation zone.
It was Swansea who took control against Lambert's rookies and Routledge embarrassed Matthew Lowton by flicking the ball over the full-back's head and racing clear, but Brad Guzan did brilliantly to deny the winger and then smothered at Michu's feet as the Spaniard followed up.
Villa's luck ran out in the ninth minute when Pablo Hernandez's pass opened up the visitors' defence and Routledge rounded Guzan to open the scoring.
Graham hit the post seconds later and the striker then also blazed wide with the goal at his mercy.
Guzan was in action again midway through the half as he turned Michu's shot onto a post after a superb run from the Spaniard.
But Villa equalised against the run of play in the 44th minute when Ashley Williams failed to cut out Benteke's flick and Weimann finished superbly with an angled shot across Michel Vorm.
Villa had a let-off when Joe Bennett was penalised for handball on the left side of his own area as he blocked from Angel Rangel, but Swansea were only awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box when the offence appeared to take place just inside the area.
Lambert and his players were furious when Michu escaped punishment for a challenge on behind that forced Ashley Westwood to leave the field.
But Benteke struck with a cool penalty to put them ahead in the 84th minute after Swansea substitute Nathan Dyer brought down Weimann.
With three priceless points within touching distance, Villa stumbled and Graham fired beyond Guzan's grasp after Michu's shot had been pushed into his path.