Tag: Mario Balotelli

Europa League: Liverpool 1-0 Besiktas

Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty to give Liverpool a narrow lead over Besiktas following a tense Europa League first leg at Anfield.

Liverpool were awarded the kick after Jordon Ibe was fouled by Ramon Motta.

Balotelli and Jordan Henderson disputed who would actually take the penalty before the Italy striker grabbed the ball and confidently converted.

Demba Ba went close for the Turkish side before the break when he broke clear but Simon Mignolet saved.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Liverpool 3-2 Spurs

Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli picked the perfect time to score his first Premier League goal for the club as he stole the headlines from the battle between England strikers present and, potentially, future.

All the talk prematch was about Daniel Sturridge and his free-scoring Tottenham counterpart Harry Kane.

No-one had mentioned Balotelli, back in the squad for the first time in four matches after a substitute appearance in the Capital One Cup semifinal at Chelsea.

No-one had given him a second thought and when he replaced Sturridge after 74 minutes there were probably not many inside Anfield who gave him a hope of scoring.

But he displayed a predatory instinct not previously seen since his 16 million piund summer move from AC Milan to convert fellow substitute Adam Lallana’s cross from close range seven minutes from time.

If he does little else in his time at the club, which remains in doubt despite him surviving the January transfer window, his goal against the Reds’ top-four rivals could still prove pivotal.

It lifted his side to within two points of third-placed Southampton, who have a match in hand, and also fourth-placed Arsenal.

Without his late intervention the debate would have centred around Kane and Sturridge.

The Spurs striker scored his 23rd of the season, equalising Lazar Markovic’s opener, while the closest his opposite number came was a clever backheel against the post.

Sturridge did win the penalty from which Steven Gerrard scored his 10th of the campaign but that was soon cancelled out by Mousa Dembele’s close-range effort.

In truth there could not be a truly fair comparison between the two strikes on show as Sturridge was starting his first match since August 31 – coincidentally the 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane – after two substitute appearances while Kane has been on a hot streak since the end of September.

Sturridge, still feeling his way back into Premier League action after the thigh injury which sidelined him for five months, still looked half a yard short of his very best blistering pace but his reactions in front of goal seemed to be up to speed.

Twice Hugo Lloris denied him, once after Ryan Mason had given the ball away, but the France goalkeeper will question himself over Liverpool’s 15th-minute opener.

Simon Mignolet’s punt downfield dropped straight at Sturridge’s feet, Spurs did not clear and Markovic took full advantage to plant a shot past Lloris, who should have done better given his class.

Tottenham were losing the battle in midfield as Liverpool’s pace of passing and movement had them chasing shadows – which may explain why Nabil Bentaleb gave the ball straight to Sturridge and had to be rescued by Eric Dier’s saving tackle.

Momentum was with the hosts but Kane’s equaliser soon put the brakes on that.

The 21-year-old’s first sniff of a chance had been dealt with by Martin Skrtel but he made no mistake with his second, turning Mamadou Sakho and leaving the France defender on the floor as he collected Erik Lamela’s pass and fired under Mignolet.

It was the first goal Liverpool had conceded in 416 minutes and the first from open play since New Year’s Day.

The game opened up even more, which benefited youngster Jordon Ibe who drove one shot into Lloris after a good run and then crossed for Sturridge to backheel against a post as Tottenham’s defence panicked.

Sturridge maintained his threat after the break and it was his weaving run which was halted by Danny Rose inside the penalty area, although it took a linesman’s flag to convince Dowd to award the spot-kick.

Gerrard slotted home to make it 10 for the season, becoming his side’s leading goalscorer, but any control they had had over the game had long gone.

Mignolet tipped over a rasping Lamela drive and did well to keep out a Christian Eriksen free-kick but Dembele was on hand to turn the ball home from close range.

Balotelli replaced Sturridge after 74 minutes and entered the pitch to words of encouragement from four sides of the ground.

It was more in hope than expectation, although there is still a groundswell of feeling among fans for the Italy international to succeed despite his underwhelming performances so far.

But he delivered when his side needed it most, nipping in behind his marker in the six-yard box to divert Lallana’s cross into the net.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Mario Balotelli could face ‘racism and anti-semitism’ investigation

Mario Balotelli could be facing a Football Association investigation over posts on social media which provoked claims of racism and anti-Semitism.

The Liverpool striker reposted an image from the computer game ‘Super Mario’ on his Instagram page which included the comment “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew”.

The image of Super Mario – with whom Balotelli shares a nickname – appeared with the heading “Don’t be a racist”. The text then read: “Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican” before the final line which has caused the controversy.

Balotelli quickly deleted the post but it soon spread on the internet. Balotelli, who has been a frequent victim of racism himself, responded on his Twitter account by writing: “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please”. He also described reposting the image as “my Unlucky moment”.

However, former FA executive and current chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council Simon Johnson said Balotelli should face action.

“We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found,” Johnson told the Daily Telegraph. “We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football.”

Under the FA’s social media guidelines, the minimum ban for race-related breaches of rules is five games.

Read more at Yahoo Sport

League Cup: Liverpool 2-1 Swansea

Mario Balotelli inspired a stirring comeback as Liverpool scored twice in the final few minutes to beat Swansea and reach the League Cup last eight.

The visitors led when Marvin Emnes hooked across Reds understudy keeper Brad Jones into the far corner.

Liverpool rarely threatened until substitute Balotelli guided in Fabio Borini’s cross.

Swans defender Federico Fernandez was sent off before centre-back Dejan Lovren headed in the late winner.

Liverpool have made an indifferent start to the Premier League season as they look to replicate last year’s second-place finish without the departed Luis Suarez.

Swansea, who are a place above their opponents in the top flight, looked set to eliminate the eight-time winners from the League Cup for the second time in three seasons with Emnes’ opener.

Ex-Swans boss Brendan Rodgers watched his current team fall into a familiar pattern of dominating possession without finding a cutting edge.

That was until Balotelli, moved to the bench as one of nine changes to the Reds team which started Saturday’s 0-0 Premier League draw against Hull, was introduced with little over 10 minutes left.

The Italy striker has faced heavy criticism for both his attitude and goalscoring record since arriving from AC Milan in August.

But he responded with a cameo performance that brought the Anfield crowd to its feet. His sharp movement led to the equalising goal and, after Fernandez was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Philippe Coutinho, he also unsettled the Swansea defence in the build-up to the winner.

Lovren, whose performances have also been questioned since his £20m move from Southampton, sparked wild celebrations in front of the Kop when he met Coutinho’s free-kick to keep alive Rodgers’ hopes of winning his first major silverware.

Read more on BBC Sport

Champions League: Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets

It was almost just like the old days as Steven Gerrard scored an added-time winner to get Liverpool’s Champions League return off to a winning start.

The Reds captain, so influential on European nights of the past, stroked home a very late spot-kick to give his team a 2-1 win over spirited Ludogorets.

It usually takes something special to upstage Mario Balotelli, who scored the first goal for the club since his £16million summer transfer from AC Milan, but the Bulgarian minnows almost achieved it when substitute Dani Abalo rolled in a 90th-minute equaliser.

However, when Javier Manquillo was brought down by goalkeeper Milan Borjan, only signed at the weekend because of suspension and injury to Ludogorets’ first two choices, Gerrard assumed the role for which he has become synonymous.

The five-time winners of Europe’s elite club competition had waited five years to be back in the big time but it seemed the fanfare which greeted its arrival at Anfield would be silenced by the visitors.

It seemed, with impeccable timing, Balotelli had chosen the perfect moment to open his account eight minutes from time but there was greater drama to follow.

And while it was not the most convincing of wins it got the Reds off and running, particularly important considering Real Madrid’s comfortable win over Basle in the other game in Group B.

Read more on ITV Sport