Liverpool morning news, fine expected for Balotelli as Rodgers defends Sterling

A selection of the latest stories involving Liverpool Football Club this Thursday morning.

Mario Balotelli is to be fined for swapping shirts with Real Madrid's Pepe at half-time during last night's 3-0 Champions League defeat to the European Champions at Anfield, according to several reports.

The Italian failed to make any real impact on the game as the Reds were given a lesson by Real at Anfield last night though they still have an opportunity to qualify from Group B - as they are level on points with Basel and Ludogorets.

Liverpool legends Phil Thompson and Graeme Souness were amongst those who slammed Balotelli for the incident, calling it disrespectful.

After the game, Brendan Rodgers was asked about the shirt swapping, where he said: “It’s not something I like. We had an incident last year with a player that was dealt with internally.

“It’s not something that I stand for. If you want to do that, you do it at the end of the game. I will deal with it tomorrow.”

In terms of the game itself, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a terrific goal before Liverpool's sloppy defending cost them soon after as Karim Benzema struck twice for the visitors on what was a sobering night for the Reds.

The Liverpool manager highlighted the first half as being costly for his side, when all of the goals came after a promising start.

He told reporters after the game: "In that period after they got the first goal through to half-time, we conceded a disappointing first goal and then the other two were sloppy and loose and nowhere near what we would want.

"At 3-0 against a team that score so many goals and can be so dangerous, it's a dangerous game then. I've got to give big credit to the players because in that first period of the game we were very good.

"We conceded poor goals against a top side but then in the second half, we were much better technically, kept possession of the ball better and were a threat."

Away from the game, Rodgers defended Raheem Sterling after reports emerged the 19-year-old was out at nightclub at 3am whilst on international duty.

The Liverpool boss is quoted in the Daily Mirror, saying: “It's obviously a story for some, but if you read it carefully, then there's not a story in it. 100 per cent it was a night out he was entitled to have, yes."

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