Balotelli converted the spot-kick to earn the hosts a narrow first-leg lead in their Europa League last-32 encounter at Anfield on Thursday night, but only after an apparent disagreement with Jordan Henderson, the captain on the night, and Daniel Sturridge over who would take it.
Captain Steven Gerrard later accused Balotelli of showing “disrespect” for taking the penalty duties off Reds captain Henderson.
Balotelli took to his Instagram account in response, writing: ???Thank you Hendo for letting me take the penalty. Stop drama now. We won that???s what counts. We are a team and especially we are Liverpool. Come on guys.???
Gerrard, who is injured, and normally less outspoken, openly 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,” Gerrard told 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.”