Europa League - Round of 32 - 1st Leg
LiverpoolLiverpool1BesiktasBesiktas0
By Timothy AbrahamBBC Sport
Mario Balotelli
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has now scored in consecutive home games for the Reds
  • Liverpool's first win in six European games
  • Balotelli scores his second goal in Europe for Reds
  • Sturridge makes European debut for Liverpool
  • Second leg on Thursday 26 February

Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty to give Liverpool a narrow Europa League lead over Besiktas despite a row over whether he should take the kick.

Liverpool were awarded the spot-kick in the first leg at Anfield after Jordon Ibe was fouled by Ramon Motta.

Balotelli and Jordan Henderson argued over who should step up to the spot before the Italy striker grabbed the ball and confidently converted.

Demba Ba went closest for Besiktas but saw his shot saved by Simon Mignolet.

Balotelli has endured a difficult time on Merseyside since his £16m move from AC Milan last summer, and last month Liverpool Brendan Rodgers told him to lift his performances in training.

However, the 24-year-old appears to have turned something of a corner having now scored in consecutive home games for the Reds, even if the manner of his penalty winner provoked a dispute with his team-mates.

Balotelli's penalty record
Mario Balotelli has scored 27 out of 29 penalties in his professional career

Liverpool thrashed Besiktas 8-0 at Anfield the last time the two sides met in a competitive European fixture in November 2007.

And with the Reds having lost just once - in extra time in the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea - since mid-December and rediscovering some of last season's swagger, hopes were high for another high-scoring game.

However, this Besiktas team - managed by former West Ham and Everton defender Slaven Bilic - proved substantially more stubborn opponents in the first leg of this last-32 tie than the side from 2007.

Indeed, the Turkish club were impressive in the group stage against Tottenham - winning 1-0 in Istanbul and drawing 1-1 at White Hart Lane - and only losing 1-0 over two legs to Arsenal in a Champions League qualifier.

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli argued with Jordan Henderson over who should take the penalty against Besiktas

Although Liverpool had the better of the chances they had to wait until the 85th minute to score, through Balotelli, who had come on to the pitch just after the hour mark.

Liverpool manager Rodgers said in the build-up to the tie that he wanted his players to show Europe the real Liverpoolexternal-link after their lacklustre displays in the Champions League which saw them knocked out after just one win in six group games.

Daniel Sturridge made his long-awaited European debut having missed the Champions League games with injury, and the England international's low shot from a tight angle was well saved by Cenk Gonen early on.

Ibe, who has reportedly been rewarded for his recent performances with a new five-year contract,external-link caught the eye in the first half for the hosts with marauding runs down the right flank.

Besiktas striker Ba faced Liverpool for the first time since scoring for Chelsea last year in a win which damaged the Reds' title hopes.

Just after 30 minutes had elapsed the Turkish league's joint top scorer broke clear of the Liverpool defence and unleashed a low drive which brought a diving save out of Simon Mignolet at the Kop End.

Adam Lallana had a great chance shortly after the interval when Henderson's cross was spilled by Gonen, but the former Southampton midfielder side-footed over the crossbar from close range.

The impressive Ibe won the decisive penalty when he escaped past Motta but was bundled over and Balotelli, following an argument with Henderson and Sturridge, struck the spot-kick low past Gonen.

Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge appeared for Liverpool in European competition for the first time
Slaven Bilic
Slaven Bilic has been in charge of Besiktas since June 2013
Jordon Ibe
Jordon Ibe, on his Europa League debut, won the decisive penalty
Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli sent Besiktas goalkeeper Cenk Gonen the wrong way from the penalty spot

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 23Can
  • 37Skrtel
  • 17Sakho
  • 33Ibe
  • 14Henderson
  • 24AllenSubstituted forLovrenat 63'minutesBooked at 68mins
  • 18Moreno
  • 20LallanaSubstituted forSterlingat 77'minutes
  • 10CoutinhoSubstituted forBalotelliat 63'minutes
  • 15Sturridge

Substitutes

  • 6Lovren
  • 9Lambert
  • 19Manquillo
  • 29Borini
  • 31Sterling
  • 45Balotelli
  • 52Ward

Besiktas

  • 1Gönen
  • 2KurtulusBooked at 77mins
  • 19FrancoBooked at 90mins
  • 22GülümBooked at 44mins
  • 31de Morais MottaBooked at 84mins
  • 13Hutchinson
  • 8Kavlak
  • 7Töre
  • 5SosaSubstituted forOzyakupat 60'minutes
  • 10SahanSubstituted forFrei Koyunluat 72'minutes
  • 9Ba

Substitutes

  • 11Pektemek
  • 15Ozyakup
  • 18Arslan
  • 20Uysal
  • 21Frei Koyunlu
  • 41Fidayeo
  • 44Opare
Referee:
Szymon Marciniak

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamBesiktas
Possession
Home64%
Away36%
Shots
Home18
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away1
Corners
Home7
Away4
Fouls
Home18
Away17

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Liverpool 1, Besiktas 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Liverpool 1, Besiktas 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  4. Booking

    Pedro Franco (Besiktas) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  5. Post update

    Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Pedro Franco (Besiktas).

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Oguzhan Ozyakup (Besiktas) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kerim Frei with a through ball.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Gökhan Töre (Besiktas) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Atiba Hutchinson.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Pedro Franco (Besiktas) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Oguzhan Ozyakup with a cross following a set piece situation.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Emre Can (Liverpool).

  11. Post update

    Ramon (Besiktas) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).

  13. Post update

    Gökhan Töre (Besiktas) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Goal!

    Goal! Liverpool 1, Besiktas 0. Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

  15. Booking

    Ramon (Besiktas) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  16. Post update

    Penalty Liverpool. Jordon Ibe draws a foul in the penalty area.

  17. Post update

    Penalty conceded by Ramon (Besiktas) after a foul in the penalty area.

  18. Post update

    Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Veli Kavlak (Besiktas).

  20. Post update

    Foul by Mario Balotelli (Liverpool).