Sunday 24 September 2017

Steven Gerrard: Mario Balotelli was disrespectful by taking the penalty instead of Jordan Henderson

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the only goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match against Besiktas at Anfield.
Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the only goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match against Besiktas at Anfield.

Steven Gerrard accused Mario Balotelli of showing "disrespect" for taking the penalty which earned Liverpool a 1-0 Europa League win over Besiktas ahead of Reds captain Jordan Henderson.

Balotelli tucked away the spot-kick to earn the hosts' a narrow first-leg lead, but only after an apparent disagreement with Henderson, the captain on the night, and Daniel Sturridge over who would take it.

Gerrard, who is injured, was working as a pundit for ITV for the match, and criticised Balotelli for his behaviour.

"Jordan should have taken the penalty. Rules are rules. It should have been Henderson. Mario has been a bit mischievous," the former England captain said on ITV.

"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."

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."

Read more: Mario Balotelli spot on as Liverpool edge past Besiktas

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