The former AC Milan striker gave Liverpool a 1-0 win against Besiktas but should not have broken rules by taking spot-kick duties off Jordan Henderson, according to his captain
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has revealed that Mario Balotelli overruled team orders by taking the penalty which secured a 1-0 win for the Reds in their Europa League last-32 clash with Besiktas.
The controversial Italian, who has an excellent record from the spot, took penalty duties off skipper-for-the-night Jordan Henderson, who would normally be expected to step up, and buried the ball to seal the victory with typical aplomb after Jordon Ibe had been fouled inside the box.
But Gerrard, the club’s No.1 penalty taker when fit, says the pre-determined rules dictate that Henderson, not Balotelli, should have been the one to take the spot-kick and he was disappointed with his behaviour.
“Jordan should have taken the penalty. Rules are rules. It should have been Henderson. Mario has been a bit mischievous,” Gerrard told ITV.
The LA Galaxy-bound midfielder did praise the striker’s composure, however, adding: “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.”
Balotelli has previously been informed of the rules, with Brendan Rodgers explaining to the former AC Milan striker when he signed that there is a penalty pecking order, but, with Gerrard injured, the Italian opted to take matters into his own hands.
Nevertheless, Liverpool will take a 1-0 lead – and a precious clean sheet – to Turkey for the second leg of their clash with Besiktas, with a place in the last 16 up for grabs.