Brian Deane hit Liverpool with two priceless goals to keep Sheffield United's premier ambitions on the boil. The 3 million pound rated striker fought a duel with extrovert Bruce Grobbelaar and came out on top.
But he shared the limelight with United's bargain buy keeper Mel Rees making his debut after Simon Tracey failed a late fitness test.
Rees, signed hours before the transfer deadline from West Brom for 25,000 pounds, kept his side in the hunt with a series of acrobatic saves.
United could have been 2-0 down at the interval. Paul Beesley failed to cut out a Jan Molby through ball leaving Rees to keep out Ray Houghton's low shot.
Minutes later he had to be quick scrambling to grab Brian Gayle's back pass on the line.
Deane's first goal in the 43rd minute came when Grobbelaar charged out of his area to challenge Bobby Davison for the ball. It bounced of the keeper's chest straight to Deane who slammed it into the empty net from 40 yards.
Deane struck again in the 80th minute beating David Burrows to a Dane Whitehouse pass before rounding Grobbelaar and side footing into an empty net.
Rees had the last word foiling Steve McManaman, tipping a Rob Jones effort over the top and again foiling Houghton.
Liverpool's best chance came in the dying minutes, a Molby free-kick from 20 yards which cannoned off the bar.
Liverpool boss Graeme Souness was fuming at his keeper. He said: "It was like something out of a comic strip and it is something I am sick of seeing. The United keeper should be complemented on his game. He played well but the game is all about not giving away daft goals and that is what we did. I cannot remember an away match when we've had so much possession and I'm bitterly disappointed at the result."
Talent spotter Dave Bassett in contrast, sang the praises of Rees. Bassett, who signed Rees from Cardiff when he was in charge at Watford, said: "Rees is a good keeper and I knew he wouldn't let me down. I have kept an eye on him ever since and when I knew he was available I didn't hesitate. He made a couple of vital saves before we scored and when Liverpool came back at us towards the end he made a few more."
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