SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2015
averick striker Mario
Balotelli managed to
upset his Liverpool team-
mates despite scoring a late
penalty in a 1-0 win over
Besiktas in the last 32 of the
Europa League, one of several
first-leg victories for expected
title contenders on Thursday.
Liverpool’s stand-in captain, Jordan
Henderson, was preparing to take the
85th-minute spot kick at Anfield when
Balotelli – a penalty specialist – took
the ball off him. Henderson momentarily
appeared unhappy, as did Liverpool
striker Daniel Sturridge, but they were
soon congratulating Balotelli after he
converted for the winning goal.
“Jordan should have taken that
penalty. Rules are rules. Mario’s been
a bit mischievous,” said injured Liverpool
captain Steven Gerrard, speaking in
his role as a pundit for British broad-
“Jordan is the captain, and Mario
showed Jordan a bit of disrespect
The commotion over the penalty took
the gloss away from another match-
winning contribution from Balotelli,
who is finally showing some form after
a slow start to his Liverpool career. Last
week, he scored a late winner against
Tottenham in the Premier League.
Balotelli is never far from controversy,
even when he is scoring winning goals.
Again, he impressed when coming
on as a substitute, as he did against
Tottenham last week and in an FA Cup
win at Crystal Palace on Saturday
when his free kick led to the winning
It was no surprise to see him seek
out the ball after young winger Jordon
Ibe was fouled for the penalty that
ended Besiktas’ stubborn resistance.
At first, Henderson appeared to be
against giving Balotelli the ball, but
relented, even after Sturridge came to
“Credit to Mario, he’s scored, but it’s
not nice to see when footballers are
arguing,” an unhappy-looking Gerrard
“I think Jordan has handled the situ-
ation very well.”
Balotelli took to Twitter soon after the
match, saying: “Thank you hendo for let-
ting me take the penalty. Stop the
drama now. We won that’s what
Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli takes the ball down-
field during the Europa League Round of 32
soccer match between Liverpool and Besiktas at
Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, on
Balotelli causes fuss
with Liverpool winner
Messi had ‘problems
on and off the pitch’
ionel Messi has said both he and
his Barcelona teammates have
learnt from mistakes that left them
without a major title for the first time in
six seasons last year.
Messi admitted on Thursday that he
had “many problems on and off the
pitch” last season. He did not elaborate.
“Last year wasn’t a good year for
me,” Messi said.
“I want to reverse that situation. I
want to keep in the same shape I am
today so I can keep being useful to the
team and helping them as much as I
Messi fought off injuries throughout
2013 and has spent the past year
being investigated for allegedly failing
to pay all his taxes.
He also came one victory short of
winning the World Cup with Argentina
losing in last summer’s final to
This season Messi has recovered the
same outstanding form that gave him
four straight World Player of the Year
awards. He has scored 37 goals in 33
games this campaign, including 14 to
fuel an 11-game winning streak since
Barcelona lost at Real Sociedad in
The forward said that the entire team
is working to redeem itself after a dis-
appointing 2013-14 season.
“We are Barcelona, and hence, we
are obliged to fight for all titles,” Messi
“Sometimes you can achieve it and
sometimes you can’t. Last season, we
didn’t win any title. We don’t want to
repeat the same situation this season.”
Barcelona is within one point of
Spanish league leader Real Madrid,
and visit Manchester City in the first leg
of their Champions League round of 16
tie next week.
ome mayor Ignazio Marino
called on Feyenoord or the
Netherlands to pay for damages
after fans of the Dutch soccer club
rampaged through the famous Piazza
“Whoever breaks it, should fix it,”
Marino told RAI state TV yesterday.
“Someone has to accept responsi-
bility – either the football club or the
EU Commission First Vice-President
Frans Timmermans said authorities
should impose hard-hitting penalties
on the hooligans.
“We need a tough approach to
make justice prevail and also because
sports should not be damaged by
the violence of hooligans,” said
Timmermans, a Dutchman who con-
siders Rome his second home.
Timmermans said the behaviour of
the rampaging fans was “a sign of
barbarity and brutishness”.
The square and the iconic Spanish
Steps were left covered with beer bot-
tles and other litter, while the recently
restored Barcaccia fountain was
damaged in the clashes before
Thursday’s Europa League match at
Roma, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Several police officers were injured.
The ANSA news agency reported that
six Feyenoord fans were arrested.
On Wednesday, 23 Feyenoord fans
were arrested after causing trouble in
another downtown area.
“It was urban warfare,” Marino
Rome mayor orders Dutch to pay for damage by Feyenoord fans
In this picture taken Thursday, bottles and beer cans float in the
water as Feyenoord’s fans gather near the fountain called
Barcaccia, made by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo, in
1627 at the Spanish steps in downtown Rome.