'We scored the penalty' – Rodgers plays down Balotelli spot-kick furore

The Italian appeared to overrule team orders as he took a spot-kick ahead of Jordan Henderson but the Reds manager has been surprised by the fallout from the incident

Brendan Rodgers has played down the incident that saw Mario Balotelli take a decisive penalty in the Europa League win over Besiktas on Thursday, despite Steven Gerrard’s criticism of the Italian.

The hosts looked set to be heading for a goalless draw in the first leg of the last-32 tie at Anfield, until Jordon Ibe was fouled in the area with seven minutes to play.

Substitute Balotelli – a clinical penalty taker – stepped up to convert the spot-kick, despite stand-in captain Henderson’s apparent desire to take it.

Daniel Sturridge looked unimpressed by the incident and a further stir was caused when injured captain and regular penalty taker Gerrard, working as a pundit for the game, accused Balotelli of “disrespecting” Henderson.

Rodgers passed no comment on the incident after the game, but moved to quell any reports of unrest on Friday.

“There’s been a lot more of a drama made out of it than there actually was,” he told reporters. “We scored the penalty. It’s very clear who are takers are in the team.

“When Steven players he is our No.1 taker. With the players initially on the pitch last night then Jordan was the nominated penalty taker.

“But if Jordan, Steven and Mario are on the pitch at the same time then we normally have Steven and Mario as the penalty takers. It’s really all with the player who is responsible for the penalty.

“Henderson showed last night what a team player he is. And Mario with the composure and calmness to finish it.”

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