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Villa held as Stoke claim improbable draw

  • Story Highlights
  • Aston Villa give up two-goal lead as Stoke battle back for 2-2 draw at Villa Park
  • Villa are six points clear of Arsenal in battle for fourth Champions League spot
  • Wins for Bolton and Blackburn boost their battle against the Premier League drop
  • Jack Collison's goal sees West Ham beat big-spending Manchester City
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(CNN) -- Aston Villa wasted a chance to strengthen their Champions League qualification claims as they were held to a 2-2 draw by relegation strugglers Stoke City on Sunday.

Villa manager Martin O'Neill was frustrated after seeing a two-goal lead disappear.

Villa manager Martin O'Neill was frustrated after seeing a two-goal lead disappear.

Villa looked to be coasting to victory after fine strikes by Stilian Petrov and John Carew put them 2-0 ahead, but Stoke hit back with two goals in the last three minutes.

First Ryan Shawcross headed home for his first of the season before substitute Glen Whelan hammered home a last-gasp injury-time equalizer for a precious point although Stoke remain in the bottom three and have not won away all season.

Villa could have gone eight points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal with victory at Villa Park and stepped up the challenge to Liverpool and Chelsea immediately above them, but had only themselves to blame.

Petrov put Villa ahead with an emphatic strike for his second of the season just before the interval and had a hand in Carew's first time effort which sailed in with 10 minutes left.

In other action on Sunday, West Ham moved up to seventh with a 1-0 win over Manchester City whose problems away from home continued.

Hammers record buy Savio Nsereko came off the bench for the injured Valon Behrami and it was his run and shot which helped to tee up Jack Collison for a well-taken winner on 71 minutes.

Earlier, City's record buy Robinho had missed a good chance after being set up by Craig Bellamy and his fellow Brazilian Elano clipped the post with a late effort.

At the other end of the table, Blackburn moved out of the bottom three with a crucial 2-1 win at fellow relegation battlers Hull City.

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Stephen Warnock and Keith Andrews struck within the space of three minutes at the end of the first half for Blackburn/

Iain Ashbee pulled one back for Hull late on but their recent slump after a fine start to the season continues.

Bolton also gave themselves more breathing space in the battle against the drop as they beat fellow strugglers Newcastle 1-0.

Second half substitute Ricardo Gardner scored with his first touch of the game for the home side, who move to 10th in the congested English standings.

Newcastle, who had strong penalty appeals turned away when JLloyd Samuel blocked Fabricio Coloccini's effort, remain 15th, two points above the drop zone.

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