Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty to give Liverpool a narrow 1 -0 Europa League lead over Besiktas despite a row over whether he should take the kick.
Liverpool were awarded the spot-kick in the first leg at Anfield after Jordon Ibe was fouled by Ramon Motta. Balotelli and Jordan Henderson argued over who should step up to the spot before the Italy striker grabbed the ball and confidently converted. Balotelli has endured a difficult time on Merseyside since his £16m move from Inter Milan last summer, and last month Liverpool Brendan Rodgers told him to lift his performances in training. However, the 24-year-old appears to have turned something of a corner having now scored in consecutive home games for the Reds, even if the manner of his penalty winner provoked a dispute with his team-mates.
Team captain Steven Gerrard said: “Henderson is the captain and Balotelli showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there.” The midfielder, who is currently injured, was working as a pundit on ITV’s coverage of the game. Gerrard said that Balotelli was being “a bit mischievous” after the Italian striker took the ball off Henderson, who was set to to take the spot kick. Henderson stood in as Liverpool’s captain against Besiktas, and Gerrard believes he should have taken the penalty. “Rules are rules,” he said. “Credit to Mario, he’s scored, but it’s not nice to see when footballers are arguing. I think Jordan has handled the situation very well.” Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers would not clarify who should have taken the penalty after the game. Asked to clarify who should have taken the penalty after the game, Rodgers said: “I am clarifying we won the game 1-0. “I have a number of outstanding penalty takers with Jordan [Henderson] and Mario [Balotelli] and Rickie Lambert. “It was the perfect result and sets up for the second leg next week.”