SIDELINED Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard accused Mario Balotelli of disrespect after the maverick striker grasped the ball from designated penalty-taker Jordan Henderson to give the Reds a 1-0 win over Besiktas in their Europa League last-32 first-leg match last night.
Balotelli proved the match-winner for the second successive Anfield clash and his successful late spot-kick ensured Liverpool hold a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at the Ataturk Stadium next Thursday.
“Jordan is the captain and Mario showed a bit of disrespect there,” said Gerrard, who was ruled out with a hamstring injury. “Rules are rules. Jordan should have taken the penalty. Mario has been a bit mischievous. Credit to Mario, he’s scored a very important goal, but it’s not nice to see when footballers are arguing.”
Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku scored his first Everton hat-trick as the Toffees all but guaranteed progress to the last 16 with a comprehensive 4-1 first-leg victory over Swiss side Young Boys in Bern.
Everton were rocked by an early opener from former Paris Saint-Germain striker Guillaume Hoarau, who later fired a second-half penalty over Tim Howard’s bar after John Stones was shown the first red card of his career.
By that stage the visitors were firmly in the ascendency following £28m striker Lukaku’s treble – only the fourth scored by an Everton player in Europe, after Alan Ball, Andy Gray and Yakubu – and a Seamus Coleman strike.
On-loan Manchester City forward John Guidetti climbed off the bench to score a stunning last-gasp leveller as Celtic drew 3-3 with Inter Milan at Celtic Park.