Liverpool morning round-up, Rodgers downplays penalty incident amid mischief claims

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

Liverpool edged the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie against Besiktas at Anfield last night courtesy of a penalty from Mario Balotelli.

But the circumstances surrounding the penalty is what is getting the headlines this morning when Balotelli took the ball away from captain for the night Jordan Henderson, and Steven Gerrard - who was working as a pundit for ITV - criticised the Italian.

He said: “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."

Manager Brendan Rodgers, however, was keen to downplay the incident and focus on another win for Liverpool as they keep momentum going through a congested fixture schedule.

The Reds face a trip to Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday which could be crucial for the side's chances of finishing in the Premier League's top four, before the return leg at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Thursday.

He told reporters after the game: “It was always going to be a tight game.

“Besiktas came with big confidence and I believe they had scored in every away game they had played this season.

“That shows the level of our defensive organisation that we kept clean sheet, and Simon made an outstanding save in first half.

“It was a perfect result of the second leg, a win and a clean sheet."

Rodgers also praised Jordon Ibe who won the penalty on his European debut for the club.

“He is growing all the time. He is a real threat whenever he has the ball and works hard for the team.

“He created the opportunity for the penalty and was an outstanding performer.”

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