Steven Gerrard accused Mario Balotelli of showing “disrespect” for taking the penalty which earned Liverpool a 1-0 Europa League win over Besiktas ahead of Reds captain Jordan Henderson.
Balotelli tucked away the spot-kick to earn the hosts’ a narrow first-leg lead, but only after an apparent disagreement with Henderson, the captain on the night, and Daniel Sturridge over who would take it.
Gerrard, who is injured, was working as a pundit for ITV for the match, and criticised Balotelli for his behaviour.
“Jordan should have taken the penalty. Rules are rules. It should have been Henderson. Mario has been a bit mischievous,” the former England captain said on ITV.
“Credit to Mario, he’s scored, but it’s not nice to see when footballers are arguing. I think Jordan has handled the situation very well. He can see that Mario really wanted to score. Jordan walked away at the right moment and handled his post-match interview very well.
“Jordan is the captain and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there, but he’s scored a very important goal. I think six or seven players would have wanted to take that penalty so if they all say they are taking it, what happens then? Rules are in place for a reason.”
Henderson tried to play down the disagreement after the match, saying: “I wanted the penalty, Mario felt confident and he has taken big penalties before. Everyone wants to take them. I felt confident in Mario, he has taken big penalties before and he got the nod.”