Gerrard: Mario was mischievous

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes Mario Balotelli showed “disrespect” and was “mischievous” by taking the match-winning penalty against Beskitas ahead of designated spot-kick taker Jordan Henderson.

The Italy international confidently stroked home an 85th-minute penalty to give the Reds a 1-0 Europa League win over Besiktas at Anfield on Thursday night.

However it was what happened in the moments beforehand, with Balotelli appearing to overrule captain-on-the-night Henderson, that caused controversy.

Gerrard, working as a pundit on ITV after he was ruled out of the last-32 first-leg tie with a thigh injury, insisted Balotelli was wrong to assume the penalty responsibilities and defy manager Brendan Rodgers’ team orders.

“Basically Henderson should have took that penalty,” Gerrard said. “I think Mario has been a bit mischievous by stepping in front of him and going against what the manager’s plans before the game.

“Credit to him, he’s scored, but it would be very interesting in that dressing room if he’d have missed that penalty.

“I think we’d have had a similar situation to what happened at Everton a couple of weeks ago (when Kevin Mirallas stepped ahead of regular taker Leighton Baines and missed).

“It’s not nice to see when players are taking it off each other and stuff, for me, rules are rules and codes are codes inside a dressing room and when a manager selects a penalty taker that player should take it.

“Jordan is the captain and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there, but he’s scored a very important goal.”

Balotelli, a £16million summer signing from AC Milan, played down the controversy, writing on Instagram: “Thank you Hendo for let me take the penalty. Stop drama now. We won that’s what it counts. We are a team and especially we are Liverpool. Come on guys.”

Manager Brendan Rodgers tried to brush off the row, joking Gerrard should have taken it, but he did not wish to take it any further.

When asked to clarify who should have taken the penalty he said: “I am clarifying we won the game 1-0.

“I have a number of outstanding penalty takers with Jordan and Mario and Rickie Lambert.

“We won the game.”

Besiktas boss Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, was disappointed his side could not hold out for a draw but he was far from downbeat.

“Of course when you concede a late penalty, late goal, you are gutted and from our point of view it wouldn’t have been unfair if it finished 0-0 or 1-1,” he said.

“We deserved a bit more but from their side they deserved maybe the one goal.

“From the bench they had really class players like Balotelli and (Raheem) Sterling.

“It is a game of two legs. We definitely have a chance at home in one week’s time to go through.”

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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