Sandaza on high side of see-saw six-goal Tayside derby thriller

St JOHNSTONE striker Francisco Sandaza believes he has returned to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League a better player and aims to prove it by continuing his impressive scoring spree.

The Spaniard took his tally to four goals in two games with a double against old club Dundee United in a rip-roaring Tayside derby that see-sawed in favour of one team and then the other.

Sandaza sparked a remarkable Saints comeback 11 minutes from the break with the equaliser from the spot after Johnny Russell had been penalised for a high boot that appeared to catch David Robertson on the face.

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After Liam Craig put the home side ahead three minutes later, Sandaza earned a two-goal advantage at the break when he hustled the ball off Garry Kenneth in the box before slotting past Dusan Pernis in injury time.

Having also netted a brace in the Scottish Communities League Cup win over Livingston in midweek, the 26-year-old has made a huge impact at McDiarmid Park after spending last season with Brighton in npower League One.

The former Valencia B marksman, who left Tannadice last summer, has high hopes for the rest of the campaign.

He said: “I think I have come back to the SPL a better player than I was when I left it. I know the league, I have been in the league with Dundee United, I know the country and I speak better English than when I came the first time. I feel good.

“I don’t know how many I can score this season but I will try and score as many as I can. I hope to score more than 15, that would be a good total.”

United midfielder Barry Douglas sparked a magnificent 90 minutes to life with less than 50 seconds on the clock when he took up space on the left side of the area and was found by Russell’s slick pass before blasting his shot past Peter Enckelman.

Saints’ riposte was made all the more incredible by United’s dominance of the following half hour.

Tannadice manager Peter Houston was upset by Charlie Richmond’s decisions to award the home side their penalty and the free-kick from which Craig drove low past Pernis from 25 yards out. However, he was thrilled with the way his team produced a comeback.

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They were given heart in the 79th minute, when substitute Gary Mackay-Steven bundled his shot past Enckelman after Russell had surged into the box following a quickly-taken free-kick.

The turnaround was complete four minutes later when Gavin Gunning powered in a header from Danny Swanson’s corner as United scented Saints’ late vulnerability.

The versatile Russell believes there were encouraging signs from the debut of on-loan Fulham youngster Lauri Dalla Valle.

He said: “I thought Lauri and I linked up well together when we went up front. He’s a good player and it was a good start for him.”