7 attempts as £16 million summer signing finally opens his Anfield account

Balotelli

Mario Balotelli scored his first goal in a Liverpool shirt as Brendan Rodgers' side despatched of tricky Champions League opposition PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

It's evident that Mario Balotelli hasn't yet clicked into Brendan Rodgers system at Anfield. For long periods in the club's 2-1 victory over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets, he appeared redundant in the final third, growing increasingly frustrated as he found himself dropping deeper in the hope of impressing his new head coach. 

Deployed as a lone striker, the 24-year-old struggled to impose himself on the opposition defence. He failed to offer the same presence as injured team-mate Daniel Sturridge, particularly in terms of his movement in the final third, and unfortunately this saw him limited to very few clear-cut chances. 

The majority of his attempts will only be considered half-opportunities. He fashioned seven strikes in total, four of which were blocked by the opposition back five, and in actual fact, he only proved inaccurate on one occasion. 

His time spent in front of goal may have frustrated the striker, but his work-rate will certainly have impressed his new team-mates, as will his quality in possession. He completed 88% of his passes, having recorded 52 touches, while finding success in three dribbles.

After a difficult evening, Brendan Rodgers looked ready to substitute Balotelli, but with Rickie Lambert seemingly readying himself on the side-lines, the Italian international finally came good.

A player of his calibre is bound to find the back of the net if afforded enough chances, and unfortunately for the visitors, he was able to do just that with ten minutes of play remaining.He showed strength and power as he turned in the penalty area, before firing a shot towards goal.

He posed a physical presence throughout proceedings, winning 80% of his aerial duels and 50% of his tackles; early signs of his potential uses to Rodgers' side. He certainly offers Liverpool an alternative to Sturridge, but based on first impressions, he is not a direct replacement.

Balotelli's goal will prove a reminder of why the Northern Irishman perceived him as a calculated risk worth taking, and it will certainly fill the striker with confidence going forward. With a first goal to his name, the 24-year-old can now focus his efforts on improving the understanding he shares with his attacking team-mates. 

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