Flashback 1992-93: Kop-smacked as Saunders gains Liverpool revenge
Paper: Sunday Mercury
Not since the Beatles broke up can Liverpool have been quite so stunned quite so quickly.
And the chief wrecker was £2.3m Kop cast-off Dean Saunders.
Less than a fortnight after his departure from Anfield, deadly Deano struck twice as Villa scored four times in half an hour to leave the Mersey beat sounding decidedly flat.
And the livewire Welshman was only denied a hat-trick by the angle of post and bar.
Saunders also turned provider to have an important part in Villa's fourth goal and must have covered every inch of turf to lead the Liverpool defence a merry dance.
The biggest crowd of the season, almost 38,000, was treated to a six-goal thriller in which injury-wracked Liverpool, missing half a dozen illustrious regulars, played their full part.
Indeed, the visitors could easily have been in the clear after they had the better of the first-half while Villa gave the ball away far too frequently and were then made to chase.
Despite a reign of crosses from the left by Steve Froggatt, David James in the visitors goal was unworried when Ronnie Rosenthal produced an incredible miss to keep Villa in the game.
Two minutes before half-time Shaun Teale was deceived by a long clearance by James and the Israeli forward nipped in and rounded Nigel Spink only to amazingly thrash his shot at an open goal against the bar.
But that was forgotten three minutes later when Teale's miscalculation let in David Burrows to hit in a diagonal cross from the left which ex-Villa winger Mark Walters brilliantly controlled before thrashing a volley past Spink.
It was no more than Villa deserved - but within two minutes they were level with Saunders returning the favour and scoring in front of his former Liverpool fans.
Garry Parker found Froggatt in space on the left and his near-post low cross was met by Saunders on the volley.
That set up a stunning second half of stunning action with Saunders shooting just over the angle three minutes into the new half and then Dalian Atkinson claimed his fourth of the season to put Villa ahead.
The burly striker diverted home Parker's sliced shot and then it was Villa until Saunders got the third.
Ray Houghton threaded a clever pass to him and the little striker shot home through James's legs.
Saunders then turned provider - hitting a clever pass to Atkinson who picked out Parker, who had no problem claiming his fourth of the season.
Liverpool, though, as is their way, do not give up and six minutes from time they claimed a consolation through Rosenthal's strike.
Paper: Sunday Express
Dean Saunders had the supreme satisfaction of playing a major role in the torment of his former team-mates.
Transferred to Villa for £2.3m just over a week ago, after months of knowing that he was surplus to requirements at Anfield, Saunders responded on his home debut for his new club by scoring two.
Only the woodwork prevented him from scoring a hat-trick and he had a hand in Villa's fourth.
Having looked comfortable in the first half, despite a number of enforced changes, Liverpool, who played with a five-man midfield, were run ragged by the end of the match.
Saunders's first goal was crucial. It arrived virtually on the stroke of half-time, just after Liverpool had taken the lead.
The goal resulted from a superb build-up, Garry Parker, having another outstanding match, produced a superb ball to release Stephen Froggatt on the left.
Froggatt advanced quickly and played in a perfect low cross which Saunders met on the run to drive the ball past David James.
Liverpool had taken the lead after an uncharacteristic mistake by Villa central defender Shaun Teale.
Facing an own-goal Teale swung a crossfield pass straight into the path of Liverpool's David Burrows.
Burrows advanced and released a crossfield pass of his own which allowed Mark Walters to cut in from the right and beat Nigel Spink with a low drive.
Villa took the lead shortly after the interval when Ray Houghton laid the ball back to Parker, whose shot across the face of goal might have gone wide but Dalian Atkinson was there to turn it in.
Minutes later Atkinson was booked for a sliding tackle on Liverpool youngster Don Hutchison, which may indirectly have led to Villa's third goal.
The youngster was later caught in two minds and allowed Houghton to take the ball and lay on the pass for Saunders's second strike.
The Wales striker narrowly failed to complete his hat-trick when he hit the angle of post and bar after beating Burrows.
The rout was completed when Saunders and Atkinson combined to create the chance for Parker to cap a superb personal performance, with Villa's fourth goal.
A late header by Rosenthal, who had missed an open goal in the first half, gave the scoreline a more respectable look but in truth Liverpool had been thrashed.
Manager Ron Atkinson, who is building an exciting team, must have been delighted to hear the chants of 'Oh Ronnie, Ronnie' echoing around Villa Park.
Paper: The Mail on Sunday
Graeme Souness was the manager with a mountain of problems.
He had just watched his injury-ravaged and wilting Liverpool side being buried by Dean Saunders - the Wales striker he had sold to Villa for £2.3m ten days earlier.
Saunders scored twice, Liverpool lost 4-2 and it was sweet revenge for the Anfield reject who cost £2.9m when he was transferred from Derby County.
What a difference 10 days - and a change of club - makes.
Saunders summed it up when he said: "Both of my goals went into the net through the legs of the goalkeeper.
"Earlier in the season at Liverpool, shots from similar positions were hitting the goalkeeper's legs or being blocked. Nothing was going right.
"Yet every time I got close today I felt I was going to score. It was great to get a couple of goals on my home debut.
"Liverpool did well in the first half but after that we looked as if we could get five or six. I wish we had.
"At Liverpool you are expected to win every game. But they have struggled since the start. Happy as I am for myself, I know exactly how the Liverpool players will be feeling.
"They will bounce back. I'm sure of that."
Villa boss Ron Atkinson enthused: "If Dean gets as many goals for us as he did for Liverpool, I'll be well pleased."
Paper: Sunday Express
Dean Saunders tormented Liverpool boss Graeme Souness with two goals and a spectacular performance just a week after being sold to Villa for £2.2m.
Saunders equalised Mark Walters's opener just before half-time, crashed in a second and also hit a post as Villa overwhelmed an injury-hit Liverpool 4-2.
And former Anfield star Mark Lawrenson backed Saunders to be a big success at Villa, saying: "Dean will do a great job. He needs mothering.
"He needs an arm around the shoulder from the time to time. Ron Atkinson will see he gets that.
"At Liverpool you have to stand on your own two feet."
Paper: Birmingham Post
Britain may have been humbled twice in Europe but what do we care when good old English football can still serve up vivid entertainment.
We skulked out of the ERM and were rudely shown the door in several of the European cup competitions.
But to be at Villa Park on Saturday was to forget such piffling worries.
The technical and defensive deficiencies that cost Norman Lamont dear in the City and in Frankfurt and made Leeds pay in Stuttgart were again in plain view as Villa and Liverpool slugged it out before the season's biggest crowd of 37,863.
But would not the perfect game of football end as a 0-0 draw?
A 4-2 scoreline, though, was perfect for the Holte End who were gleefully and not unreasonably considering the way Liverpool melted before Villa in the second half, chanting 'we want five.'
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