Aston Villa welcomed Reading to Villa Park on Tuesday with both sides currently occupying spots in the relegation zone after a third of the season.
Chances were few and far between throughout an uninspiring contest but the best of them fell to the home side in the first half.
Adam Federici had to get down sharply to save a Benteke shot from the penalty spot before the striker created a glorious opening for Andreas Wiemann.
He picked out the Austrian with a low ball across the box but Wiemann wastefully smashed his shot over the bar from eight yards out.
Reading, who welcomed Adrian Mariappa and Shaun Cummings back into the defence in place of Kaspars Gorkss and Chris Gunter, came closest through two familiar sources, Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison.
Aston Villa shaded the possession in an eventful opening half, but chances remained at a premium with the two teams entering the break level at 0-0.
The opportunities began to fall in the second period, but it was Christian Benteke who struck 10 minutes from time to hand Villa all three points in the key relegation clash.
Victory, only their third in the league this season, lifted Villa out of the bottom three while Reading remained in the relegation zone.
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Sunderland 0-0 Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers held Sunderland to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light, in a lively bottom of the table encounter in Harry Redknapp’s first game in charge of the Premier League strugglers.
Rangers looked like a different team in the opening half, with Adel Taarabt and Esteban Granero finding ample space in midfield and Djibril Cisse with a number of good chances to open the scoring, but they were unable to find that killer pass through the Black Cats’ defence.
It was QPR's first point since they drew 1-1 with Reading on November 4 but the result meant the west London club, who last week sacked Mark Hughes as their manager, remained bottom of the table.
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