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It had to be you ...

Dean Saunders came back to haunt Graeme Souness with two goals as Aston Villa overran Liverpool at Villa Park.

Saunders, sold to Villa 10 days ago for 2.3 million pounds, had the last word with a fine display on his home debut.

The Welsh international wiped out Villa old boy Mark Walters' 43rd minute opener for Liverpool, equalising on the stroke of half-time with only his second shot on goal. He burst into the box to meet Stephen Froggatt's low cross first time, leaving Anfield goalkeeper David James the job of retrieving the ball from the back of the net.

Saunders could have made it 2-1 right after the break with a fierce left foot shot that flew just past the angle but new striking partner Dalian Atkinson did give Villa the lead in the 54th minute with a straight-forward tap-in from Garry Parker's sliced shot.

The Villa newcomer was back on target, though, in the 66th minute when he ran onto a ball from another Liverpool old boy, Ray Houghton, to steer the ball between the legs of the exposed James. And he showed his delight be leaping over advertising hoardings to celebrate in front of Villa fans in a 37,863 crowd, their best of the season.

Saunders could have grabbed a hat-trick in the 77th minute when he beat Wright but shaved a post with a right foot shot.

But Parker made no mistake a minute later as he romped through the midfield of Liverpool's disintegrating defence to set the home fans chanting "We want five."

That rare insult to Liverpool's ears sparked the Anfield side forward and Ronnie Rosenthal, guilty of an astonishing first-half miss when he struck the crossbar when in front of an empty net, pulled a goal back.

Saunders is determined to savour his double strike in Aston Villa's colours. And Saunders said afterwards he would be settling down in his armchair to watch the goals again on BBC Television's Match Of The Day programme. Saunders said: "I haven't been watching lately because I have been having a bit of a nightmare but I'll be tuning in again tonight. Obviously I had a big incentive to do well today and I'm thrilled to have scored. Both my goals went through the goalkeeper's legs. Two months ago I was hitting shots like that and they were coming back of the goalkeeper's legs. It just shows how things can change. I actually thought Liverpool were the better side in the first half but we really did well in the second half."

Villa manager Atkinson, who persuaded Souness to part with Saunders and swallow a 600,000 pound loss on the 2.9 million pound British record fee he set 14 months ago, said: "If we had gone in behind at the break it could have made all the difference. Dean's first goal was a very good striker's goal inside the six yard box. He was the first to get in there, the first to get to the ball and he put it away just like the best strikers do."

Souness' press conference lasted barely a minute with the Anfield boss saying: "I though we played very well in the first half, maybe the best we have played all season but the second half saw things tell on the younger boys in the team as Villa put us under pressure. The first and third goals were from mistakes by younger players while the fourth was a mistake from an England international. Remember, though, we had seven players who would have been in my line-up out injured."

Asked if it was inevitable that Saunders would score, Souness just stared back and snorted on his way to the door.

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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