It has to be Mario Balotelli. Winner. Hero. And yet a controversial figure.
Jordan Henderson was the designated penalty taker, but stepped in Super Mario, who seemed to have over-ruled his captain on the night to slot home in the 85th minute to beat the visitors 1-0.
It was a great win for Liverpool and Mario was the first to play down the controversy, after he responded on social media by writing on Instagram:
“Thank you hendo for let me take the penalty. Stop drama now. We won that’s what it counts. We are a team and especially we are Liverpool. Come on guys.”
Henderson seems to have taken it nicely as in the end it has fetched a positive result for the side. He said after the match:
“I wanted the penalty, Mario felt confident and he has taken big penalties before. Everyone wants to take them. I felt confident in Mario, he has taken big penalties before and he got the nod.”
However, Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, a guest television pundit for the night, have accused Balotelli of being “mischievous” and disrespecting the on-field captain for the night Henderson.
When asked what would have happened had he been on the field, Gerrard said, via Liverpool Echo: “I would have taken it, that’s what would have happened. Basically, Jordan Henderson should have taken that penalty,
“Mario is being a bit mischievous by stepping in front of him and going against what the manager’s plan was before the game. But credit to him, he’s finished the penalty off – but it would have been very interesting in that dressing room if he had missed the penalty.
“We’d have had a similar situation to Everton a couple of weeks ago and it’s not nice to see when players are taking it off each other.
“For me, rules are rules and codes are codes, when a manager selected a penalty taker that player takes it so it should have been Henderson. Fair play to Mario, he was terrific when he came on, he helped change the game in Liverpool’s favour and with pressure on his shoulders he slotted it away very well and it’s a big goal for us.”
We bring here some of the best reactions from Twitter:
Honestly, I wouldn’t trust Henderson to take the winning penalty.
— Mupela Chembe III (@mpela21) February 20, 2015
Balotelli steals the headlines again? He took the penalty from Henderson and converted it. How is that about disrespect, Gerrard?
— The Shoonchy (@Shoonchy) February 20, 2015
Jordan Henderson is one of my favorite players at #LFC, but I’ve never seen him take a penalty, balotelli was the right man to take it!!
— keveshan moodley (@kivz7) February 20, 2015
I slated Mirallas for taking the ball off Baines but difference is Baines is a proven penalty specialist and regular taker, Henderson isn’t.
— David Martinez (@DMARTINEZ_85) February 20, 2015
Surely the biggest question from this whole penalty molehill is why on Earth anyone would have Henderson as the first-choice taker.
— Rory Smith (@RorySmithTimes) February 19, 2015
Balotelli is one of the best penalty takers on the planet, right? Don’t see why Jordan Henderson should have priority just because he’s capt
— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) February 19, 2015
I can’t understand why Henderson was whinging, Mario has a great penalty record. Well done Mario.
— Mersey Reds (@MerseyReds1) February 19, 2015
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers didn’t want to comment on the matter, and played the on-field controversy by stating the most important thing was winning the match.
Was Gerrard right in his criticism? As a skipper, he shouldn’t have said such harsh things to his team-mates, especially when he turned out to be the match winner.
Share your reactions below…