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.
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.
Steven Gerrard and Peter Reid disagreed over the incident which saw Mario Balotelli snatch the ball from stand-in Reds skipper Jordan Henderson to take a late penalty for Liverpool against Besiktas last night.
Working as a pundit for ITV, Liverpool captain Gerrard - who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury - accused Balotelli of "disrespecting" Henderson by demanding to take the spot kick.
Former Everton midfielder Reid defended Balotelli by claiming it was just "confidence, give us it, little bit of a ruck."
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli celebrated his part in the Reds' FA Cup win over Crystal Palace by sparring with his friend, the Armenian-Italian kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan, on a moving train.
Balotelli posted a clip of the action on his Instagram feed:
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Things have not gone as planned for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool but the Italy international is hopeful of turning things around at AnfieldRead the full story ›
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Mario Balotelli will struggle to get into his side at the moment, but confirms the Italian striker will stay with the club.
Balotelli is yet to score in the league since joining from Milan in the summer, and has been left out of the matchday squad recently, but doesn't look set to leave in the January transfer window.
"It's been a difficult period for Mario but he wants to fight for an opportunity here."
After Saturday's draw with Bolton, Rodgers confirmed that Balotelli has been absent as his style was not suited to Liverpool's tactics.
“We spent about an hour or so chatting. He understands where it is at. He knows what is required to get in the squad - the pressing and aggression - and if you can’t do that you are not going to be part of the team. We suffered in the first four months of the season and we can’t go back to that."
Mario Balotelli watches Liverpool v Chelsea in the comfort of his onesie.
This illness might prevent me from helping my team on the pitch but it will NOT stop me from supporting my team off the pitch!! come on guys.. COME ON LIVERPOOL.. YNWA ???
Check out Mario Balotelli's impression of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Liverpool striker impersonates the Real Madrid star's reaction to winning the Ballon d'Or last week.
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Former Man City manager Roberto Mancini believes Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is "wasting" his professional career.
The pair worked together during Mancini's first spell at Inter and again at Man City, before Mancini was dismissed and Balotelli moved to AC Milan.
The Italian striker failed to live up to Milan's expctations and was offloaded to Liverpool last summer, where things have gone from bad to worse both on and off the field.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera Mancini, currently enjoying a second spell in charge of Inter, said:
I have not heard from Mario since we worked together at Manchester City. He was still a kid when we were together at Inter. He would do anything I asked him and he also behaved well at City.
It has all gone downward a bit since he left City. I thought he would do well at Milan, but it didn’t happen.
Mario is at risk of following the same path as Adriano. I hope that he wakes up one morning and realises that he is wasting everything.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has denied media reports linking Liverpool's misfiring striker Mario Balotelli with a move to the Turin giants in the winter transfer market.
The Italy international has scored just two goals since joining Liverpool from AC Milan in a #16million transfer in August and has yet to find the back of the net in the Premier League this season.
Allegri, who coached Balotelli at Milan before taking the helm of Juve in July, told Italian TV station RAI: "I think this is a made up story.
"Balotelli has done very well with me but he belongs to Liverpool and he is not a player that can arrive at Juventus."
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli could have to pay up to 10,000 euros in speeding fines in the Italian region of Bergamo.
Balotelli racked up 18 offences between 2012 and 2013, including driving at up to 200km per hour in a 130km zone, but has thus far not paid them.
The striker told the court of Bergamo that he had not settled the fines, as he was living in Manchester at the time, so did not receive them.