Balotelli plays down penalty 'drama'

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli thanked Jordan Henderson for letting him take the match-winning penalty in his side's triumph over Besiktas in the UEFA Europa League.

Balotelli struck the only goal of the round of 32 first leg from the spot in the 85th minute, but injured captain Steven Gerrard slammed the Italian for disrespect after the game, claiming that stand-in skipper Henderson was on penalty duties.

In the lead-up to the penalty, Henderson had the ball but Balotelli took it off him and, with fellow striker Daniel Sturridge seemingly also interested in taking responsibility from the spot, the oft-criticised Italy international ignored any complaints from his team-mates to score.

Balotelli wrote on Instagram: "Thank you Hendo for let [sic] me take the penalty.. Stop drama now. We won that's what it [sic] count. We are a team and expecially [sic] we are Liverpool. Come on guys."

It was only Balotelli's fourth goal of the season in all competitions since joining Liverpool from Milan but the 24-year-old is a renowned penalty taker, having converted 21 in a row in his professional career before producing his first miss in 2013.