While Steve Gerrard was none too pleased with Mario Balotelli’s decision to wrestle spot-kick duties from Jordan Henderson in Liverpool’s 1-0 Europa League win over Besiktas, he might want to go back and look at some earlier comments he made about the polarising striker.
Appearing on ITV as a pundit, Gerrard accused Balotelli of showing “disrespect” for taking the 86th-minute penalty which sealed the result in the first-leg of their last-32 tie at Anfield on Thursday night, having taken the ball from the stand-in skipper after what appeared to be a slight disagreement.
The Reds captain, who is out injured at present, said: “Jordan is the captain, Mario would have seen it on the board that Jordan was on the penalty and he showed Jordan a little bit of disrespect there. But we've got away with it.
“It doesn’t look right and certainly inside the dressing room it isn’t nice to see. Henderson handled his interview and situation terrifically well, what’s important for me and the supporters here is to get the win, the clean sheet and to put us in a very good position for the second leg.”
Nevertheless, Balotelli has a fantastic record from the spot throughout his career, now boasting a record of 27 scored in 29 attempts, which usual taker Gerrard even acknowledged upon his £16 million arrival from AC Milan, backing his new teammate to take a few off himself at the time.
“I’m aware he's a terrific penalty taker," Gerrard told the Standard back in August. "I'm sure he'll get the chance to take some penalties for the club.
"The manager's told me if I'm not on the pitch he'll take them.
"That was a very important penalty today, because I know everyone's waiting for me to miss so they can tell me Rickie [Lambert] or Mario can be the penalty takers. But the more good penalty takers we've got, the better."
Something looks to have changed in the meantime then but, for what’s worth, Balotelli moved to diffuse the tension on his official Instagram account following the match, writing:
That ends that then.