Liverpool latest: Former manager backs Balotelli for success after first goal

Anfield Pitch

All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Anfield...

Liverpool were expected to coast past Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad on Tuesday night, but it was a much trickier night than anticipated as the Reds made their return to Champions League football. It took Liverpool until the 82nd minute to open the scoring as Mario Balotelli bagged his first goal at Anfield, but Ludogorets threatened to spoil the party with a 90th minute equaliser, only for Steven Gerrard to notch an injury time penalty. Balotelli's first goal for the club was particularly special, and former Reds boss Gerard Houllier says the Italian will be a top player for the club.

"He's a very good centre-forward," said Houllier. "There's not many class centre-forwards like him. If he settles well in Liverpool, he knows the Premier League obviously, he will be a tremendous asset for the club."

It was an edgy night at Anfield, as the Bulgarians held firm against the Liverpool attack. After four years away from Champions League football, it will take Brendan Rodgers' men some time to get going again, but midfielder Jordan Henderson says the club will adapt eventually.

"We thought it would be difficult as there are no easy games in the Champions League," said the new Liverpool vice-captain. "It wasn't easy at all and they made it difficult. We will learn a lot from it but the most important thing was three points."

"It (Champions League) is a little bit different. I thought the crowd were incredible and the atmosphere was brilliant but you just have to adapt as best you can," added the former Sunderland star. "You just have to play your own game and we did that at times but we can still be better. Everybody is looking forward to the next game now and we've got to keep improving."

In other news, playmaker Philippe Coutinho has retained his place in the Brazil squad ahead of their games against Argentina and Japan next month, and injured striker Daniel Sturridge is reportedly hoping to make it back into the team for Liverpool's Merseyside derby against Everton on September 27th.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch