Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard runs the rule over Mario Balotelli penalty
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard says Jordan Henderson should have taken 85th-minute penalty
Steven Gerrard described Mario Balotelli as “mischievous” after the Liverpool striker controversially scored a late penalty to seal a 1-0 victory over Besiktas at Anfield.
The Reds were awarded the chance to secure a slender aggregate lead after Jordon Ibe was brought down in front of The Kop with five minutes remaining on Merseyside.
Jordan Henderson was the assigned penalty taker in the absence of injured skipper Gerrard, but Balotelli pinched the ball from the stand-in captain.
Jordan is the captain and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there, but he’s scored a very important goal
The Italy international dispatched his fourth Liverpool goal with ease, but Gerrard felt his second-in-command should have taken the spot-kick.
Speaking to ITV Sport, Gerrard said: “Jordan should have taken the penalty. Rules are rules. It should have been Henderson. Mario has been a bit mischievous.”
However, the 34-year-old, who is set to leave Liverpool to join MLS outfit LA Galaxy at the end of the season, praised Henderson for handling the situation without stoking further controversy.
“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,” Gerrard added.
“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.”
Liverpool make the trip to the Ataturk Stadium next Thursday as Gerrard return to the ground where he memorably captained the Reds to Champions League final glory in 2005.