Liverpool 1-0 Besiktas: Late Balotelli penalty earns the Reds a slim lead in Europa League last-32

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty to earn the Merseyside club a narrow win to take into the second leg of the Europa League last-32, reports BBC Sport.

Besiktas set up with a game plan to frustrate Liverpool, and their plan was working in the first-half. The Turkish club were much more organised, and kept the Reds at bay in the opening 45 minutes, while also coming close to scoring too. Demba Ba nearly scored after being through on goal, but his shot was saved by Simon Mignolet.

After the break, Liverpool pushed for a winning goal, but could not find the breakthrough initially. The home side were awarded a late penalty following a foul by Roman Motta on the impressive Jordon Ibe. Balotelli tucked away the spot-kick, but it wasn’t without controversy.

The penalty followed an extended argument between Balotelli and Jordan Henderson, with the England international supposed to be taking the spot-kick, but Balotelli instead assuming responsibilities. It led to captain Steven Gerrard criticising the striker following the final whistle, and could land him in hot water with manager Brendan Rodgers.

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