Football: Saunders rewarded

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The Independent Online
Liverpool. . .2

Chelsea. . . .1

A SECOND win in seven matches may not represent a revival, but the relief around Anfield will do for now. Liverpool required an 89th minute goal, bundled in by Jamie Redknapp, to spare them the frustration of a fourth successive draw.

Chelsea had wiped out Liverpool's one-goal lead and threatened to take all three points, but Mark Walters' cross from the right somehow found its way through the grasp of Dave Beasant and Liverpool's winner was presented to them on a plate.

The day's most significant performance was by Dean Saunders, who may yet join Aston Villa this week. Questioned after the match, Graeme Souness, the Liverpool manager, suggested that the transfer was out of his hands, saying: 'You'd better ask Aston Villa.' Saunders gave Liverpool the lead and might have completed a deserved hat-trick, the uncertainty over his future appearing to affect him no more than his involvement in the 10th-minute incident which caused Chelsea's Paul Elliott to be taken to hospital with suspected torn knee ligaments.

Undaunted by terrace chants of 'Vinnie's going to get you', Saunders proceeded to torment Chelsea's defence. He combined with Rob Jones to give the full-back an opportunity which he lofted over and was also on hand to support Ian Rush when he had a shot hooked off the line.

Saunders' reward came in the 28th minute, after he won a free- kick out on the left. He picked himself up and met Jan Molby's resultant inswinging corner with a glancing header beyond Beasant.

Chelsea were limited to long-range efforts as Robert Fleck and Mick Harford struggled to make an impression on Liverpool's central defence and Andy Townsend was initially not able to command the midfield. In the 72nd minute, however, Fleck punished a Molby mistake to set up the equaliser for Harford. Townsend wasted an opportunity to put his side ahead and instead it was Redknapp who produced the decisive touch.

Liverpool: D James; R Jones, D Burrows, S Harkness, R Whelan, M Wright, D Saunders, J Redknapp, I Rush, J Molby, S McManaman (M Walters, 73min). Subs not used: M Marsh, B Grobbelaar (gk). Manager: G Souness.

Chelsea: D Beasant; D Lee, G Hall, V Jones, P Elliott (I Pearce, 13min), M Donaghy, E Newton, R Fleck, M Harford, A Townsend, D Wise. Subs not used: J Allon, N Colgan (gk). Manager: I Porterfield.

Referee: J Key (Sheffield)

Goals: Saunders (1-0, 28min); Harford (1-1, 72 min); Redknapp (2-1, 89 min).

(Photograph omitted)

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