Liverpool 2 Ludogorets 1: Steven Gerrard heaps praise on Mario Balotelli

Liverpool 2 Ludogorets 1: Steven Gerrard was encouraged by Mario Balotelli's work-rate after narrow win

Liverpool
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Ludogorets
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Steven Gerrard praised Mario Balotelli’s relentless work-rate after the Italian helped fire Liverpool to a winning return to the Champions League.

The Italy international broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute after the Reds were left frustrated by a dogged Ludogorets outfit at Anfield.

We did OK but it wasn’t better than OK. There’s a lot to learn, we were caused problems on the counter-attack

Steven Gerrard

Liverpool appeared to have blown three points when Paulos Dani Abalo levelled in the 90th minute, only for captain Gerrard to net a stoppage-time winner from the spot.

“You have to give Mario Balotelli credit, he is under the spotlight and everyone is waiting for that first goal,” Gerrard told ITV Sport.

“It didn’t go his way for long periods but the sign of a good goal-scorer is to keep going and it only takes once chance and he showed that tonight.

“But what is more important than the goal is his work-rate. Myself and the rest of the lads were waiting to see what he would give the team, and he ran his socks off. That is the biggest plus for me.”

On Liverpool’s performance, Gerrard admitted the five-time European champions must do better at Basel in their next Champions League outing.

“It is always nice to win the games especially when you think you’re going to drop two points,” Gerrard continued.

“It was nice to get the decision at the end and it was the right decision.

“But looking at the game as a whole, We did OK but it wasn’t better than OK. There’s a lot to learn, we were caused problems on the counter-attack like Aston Villa at the weekend.”

“If we win in Basel now it puts us in a good position but we must do better,” Gerrard added.

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