Deadly Dean

Dean Saunders was as good as his word with a double strike which sent Liverpool marching towards a UEFA Cup quarter-final place.

Saunders had promised to score after being told by manager Graeme Souness to "start doing his job" after a worrying barren spell in front of goal.

He delivered the goods with goals in the 57th and 78th minutes which were also a perfect riposte to Nottingham Forest assistant manager Ronnie Fenton. Brian Clough's right-hand man had questioned Saunders' ability earlier in the day after rejecting a possible swap transfer involving Forest Midfielder Roy Keane.

The 2.9 million pound British record signing has now scored 10 goals this season, with six of them coming in just two European appearances, and his delight was shared by Souness, who leaped from the dugout to join the celebrations.

Saunders had looked keen throughout to answer his critics in the best way possible but was perhaps too eager in the first half.

But a quick throw in by Gary Ablett in the 57th minute put him clear and Saunders held off the challenge of defender Robert Wazinger before firing a low left foot shot under goalkeeper Milan Oraze's body.

That goal seemed to inspire him still further and three minutes later he sent a quick snap shot just wide.

In the 66th minute he combined brilliantly with striking partner Steve McManaman and only the alertness of Oraze in the home goal prevented a score for the 19 year old discovery.

Saunders was on the mark again when he timed his run perfectly onto Jan Molby's through ball to strike another firm left foot shot into the back of the net.

Saunders later let fly at his critics. He said: "The two goals tonight will answer my critics. If they have been watching, that will wipe the smile off their faces. I have been under a lot of pressure and it has been a difficult time but I have tried to keep faith in my own ability.”

“Since I left Derby I have been living in hotels with two children and my wife's not been too happy but it's no excuse. Ex-players have been having a go at me and that has been very hard to ignore and I am looking forward to seeing what those people who have been criticising me will have to say tomorrow. I have scored ten goals now but if you cost three million it's not enough because you are expected to do more."

And about Forest's revelations that Liverpool had tried to swap him for Keane, he added: "As far as I am concerned I am a Liverpool player and I want to remain at Liverpool Football Club."

Manager Graeme Souness dismissed those reports, saying: "I have not spoken to Brian Clough since the second last game of last season. There has been a lot of speculation but there is absolutely no truth in it. We spent a lot of money on Dean Saunders and it is ridiculous to ask whether we want to keep him."

About the Welsh striker's performance he added: "It was good for Dean to get two goals because he has had a fair bit of criticism. He has suffered more than most because of our injuries. He's a player who relies on service and he has played in a different team virtually every week. When we get everyone back and fit that'll be the time to judge this football club and any particular players."

Forest assistant manager Fenton had claimed that Liverpool wanted to exchange Saunders for Keane and added: "We dismissed the deal straight away because Roy is a much better player than Saunders and he will get better so it wouldn't make financial sense."

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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