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Liverpool boss Rodgers backs Balotelli over penalty

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given his full backing to striker Mario Balotelli over the penalty furore which blew up in the 1-0 win over Besiktas in the Europa League.

Balotelli took the ball off Henderson to take Liverpool's late penalty. Credit: PA

Rodgers insists the Italy international was right to step in front of Jordan Henderson, captain on the night and designated pre-match taker, even if it looked unseemly at the time.

Injured captain Steven Gerrard, as a guest television pundit, called Balotelli "mischievous" and "disrespectful", but Rodgers said the 24-year-old - who has scored 27 out of 29 from the spot in his career - was following the long-established order agreed earlier in the season.

There has probably been a lot more of a drama been made out of it than it actually was. With the players who were initially on the pitch last night Jordan was our nominated taker.

But if Jordan and Steven and Mario are on the pitch at the same time we would normally have Steven and Mario as the penalty-takers.

History shows he (Balotelli) has scored nearly 30 penalties in big games so he is an outstanding penalty-taker, but none of them were on (at the start) so you have to nominate someone.

Jordan was happy enough to take it but he gave it to Mario.

– Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool legend calls out Barton over Henderson jibe

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has questioned Joey Barton over his criticism of Jordan Henderson.

Carragher has stood up for Liverpool midfielder Henderson. Credit: PA

Barton accused Henderson of "trying to be a Steven Gerrard clone" earlier this afternoon, questioning the England midfielder's stand-in skipper role and suggesting he will never be good enough to emulate Gerrard.

"How's Henderson trying to impersonate Gerrard?" Carragher responded on Twitter. "Who said he's the next Gerrard? Wearing armbands, would you say no to captaincy?"


Lille manager blames Liverpool move for Origi trouble

Lille manager René Girard has blamed Divock Origi's dip in form this season on his transfer to Liverpool in the summer.

Origi has lost his touch in front of goal. Credit: Reuters

The Belgian youngster was bought by the Reds and immediately loaned back to the French club as part of the deal.

But the 19 year-old, who impressed during last summer's World Cup, has failed to score in his last 18 matches for Lille, and managed just five in 31 appearances for club and country this term.

Divock Origi is a young player. Him signing for Liverpool has been a drag [on his performances] from the start. It's not easy to manage, but we need him.

– Lille manager René Girard

Gerrard critical of Liverpool striker Balotelli

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.


Liverpool boss unfazed by former Chelsea striker

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists Demba Ba's return to Anfield, 10 months after he ruined the club's Barclays Premier League title dream, will not stir up bad memories.

Liverpool don't have good memories of Demba Ba. Credit: PA

In April last year Ba, then a Chelsea player, capitalised on a slip by Steven Gerrard to race through and score the crucial opening goal at Anfield.

Chelsea, who produced a masterclass of defending that day, went on to win 2-0 and deliver a fatal blow to Liverpool's hopes of ending their long, barren run without a championship.

It won't stimulate any bad memories for me. At the time (last April) he scored a goal, which was a good goal, but he has scored many good goals in his career.

We just see him as a threat that we will pay respect to but nothing more than that. He had a very good period here in England, he is a wonderful player, who has good touch and technique and he scores goals.

He has gone to Besiktas and done well.

– Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
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