Steven Gerrard: This Mario Balotelli trait was more important than his goal

Giant Anfield Flag

Liverpool captain helped influence a 2-1 victory over Ludogorets at Anfield in their first Champions League game of the new campaign.

Liverpool laboured to a 2-1 triumph over Ludogorets Razgrad earlier this evening, Tuesday, as it took the Reds 82 minutes to break the deadlock over the Bulgarian minnows, with a late Steven Gerrard penalty enough to spare the home side's blushes after Ludo equalised in the first minute of added time.

Mario Balotelli was the one to break the deadlock after a canny turn allowed him a shot on goal - this one, unlike his other six attempts, bulged the net and the Italian - a £16 million summer signing from AC Milan - was swift to celebrate (pictured above).

It was no solo celebration, as Balotelli's goal was rejoiced by the entire playing staff and also the manager, Brendan Rodgers, as the old proverb that patience is a virtue proved apt as the 24-year-old, in his third appearance for his new club, finally scored for Liverpool.

"You have got to give him credit," said captain Steven Gerrard to ITV in his post-match offering.

"He's been in the spotlight a lot recently and the sign of a good goalscorer is relentlessness. You only need once chance and he had that," the Englishman added.

However, what most impressed Gerrard was not the terrific finish but the professionalism in Balotelli's performance: "What was more important was his work-rate… and he worked his socks off - that's a big plus for me."

Kop legend Robbie Fowler added in the studio: "He scores them at vital times even if he's not involved in much of the game."

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch