Top Fives: Magic Marek


To celebrate Marek Saganowski's 43rd birthday, we’re counting down the former striker's finest goals in a Southampton shirt…

After a prolific loan spell the previous season, the goals had dried up for Saganowski by the time Saints hosted Sheffield United on the final day of the 2007/08 Championship campaign. Nigel Pearson’s side needed a positive result to have any chance of staying up, and the boss kept faith in the Polish striker, who was without a goal in his last 24 appearances. Saganowski duly rewarded him with a brave header on the stroke of half time to level the scores – his first goal since October – before Stern John’s brace saved Saints’ skin.

Back from a loan spell at Aalborg in Denmark, Saganowski was back in the goals, netting in consecutive matches against Doncaster and Norwich. He was looking to extend his scoring streak to three games in a row against Swansea at St Mary’s, and did not disappoint. Whilst very adept in the air, Saganowski’s composure with the ball at his feet was equally impressive, as proved here at St Mary’s. Profiting from some hesitant defending from former Saint Garry Monk, the striker rounded goalkeeper Dorus de Vries not once but twice, before picking his spot beyond two covering defenders on the goal line.

Three weeks later, Saganowski was tormenting another Championship defence at St Mary’s, taking his purple patch to six goals in six games. His second of another brace, having netted twice against Swansea, was all his own work against Preston. Receiving the ball inside his own half, he ran at a retreating rearguard, left one defender on his backside with a neat shimmy and drove a low left-footed shot between the legs of the keeper from 12 yards. Further proof that the Polish international was capable of scoring every type of goal.

His first goal from the same game was arguably even better. It started with some neat interplay between two Saints Academy graduates, as Simon Gillett’s lofted pass was chested off by Adam Lallana into Saganowski’s path. Taking one touch to set himself, Saints’ no. 4 waited for the ball to drop before hitting an unstoppable half-volley from 25 yards that dipped just in time to beat Andy Lonergan – now of Liverpool – in the Preston goal, and creep in just underneath the crossbar for a spectacular strike.

The signature game of his explosive loan spell, in which Saganowski struck 10 goals in as many matches as George Burnley’s side eyed a return to the Premier League in 2006/07. Perhaps his third goal, and Saints’ sixth of a memorable away day, was also worthy of this top five, but it was his second that epitomised Saganowski’s speed of thought inside the box. Latching on to Andrew Surman’s header in behind the Wolves defence, his first touch took him wide and away from goal. But as goalkeeper Matt Murray advanced, the classy frontman looked up and sent a gorgeous chip sailing over his head, nestling neatly just inside the far post.