Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard unhappy over Balotelli's penalty antics
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has said Mario Balotelli’s taking of the penalty against Besiktas, ahead of captain Jordan Henderson, was a show of 'disrespect’. The penalty which earned the Reds a 1-0 Europa League win.
Balotelli tucked away the spot-kick safely to earn the hosts a narrow first-leg lead. But prior to the kick, the Italian was involved in a disagreement with Henderson, the captain for the night, and Daniel Sturridge over who would take it.
Gerrard, who missed the match due to an injury, was working as a pundit for ITV for the match.
He said, “Jordan should have taken the penalty. Rules are rules. It should have been Henderson. Mario has been a bit mischievous.”
“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. He can see that Mario really wanted to score. Jordan walked away at the right moment and handled his post-match interview very well.”
“Jordan is the captain and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there, but he's scored a very important goal. I think six or seven players would have wanted to take that penalty so if they all say they are taking it, what happens then? Rules are in place for a reason.”
Jordan Henderson tried to play down the disagreement after the match, saying, “I wanted the penalty, Mario felt confident and he has taken big penalties before. Everyone wants to take them. I felt confident in Mario, he has taken big penalties before and he got the nod.”
Mario Balotelli’s explanation on Social Media
Soon after the match Balotelli took to social media in an attempt diffuse the situation. He posted on Instagram, “Thank you Hendo for letting me take the penalty. Stop drama now. We won that's what it count. We are a team and especially we are Liverpool. Come on guys.”
He also tweeted saying, “And .. Thank all of you supporters. Thanks with all my heart. You are great. Now let's think about Sunday's match.”