- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mario Balotelli took the ball from teammate Jordan Henderson as he was preparing to take an 85th-minute penalty kick, then scored the goal that gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over visiting Besiktas on Thursday night in the first leg of the Europa League’s second round.

Liverpool was awarded the penalty kick by Polish referee Szymon Marciniak, who ruled Ramon Motta tripped Jordan Ibe.

Henderson, Liverpool’s captain in the absence of injured midfielder Steven Gerrard, was preparing to take the kick when the ball was grabbed by Balotelli, a penalty kick specialist.

Henderson momentarily appeared unhappy, as did Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge, but they were soon congratulating Balotelli.

“Jordan should have taken that penalty. Rules are rules. Mario’s been a bit mischievous,” Gerrard said on ITV. “Jordan is the captain, and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there.”

Balotelli has converted 27 of 29 penalty kicks for club and country.

“I wanted the penalty,” Henderson said. “Mario felt confident and he has taken big penalties before. Everyone wants to take them. I felt confident in Mario, he has taken big penalties before and he got the nod.”

Balotelli took to Twitter soon after the match, saying: “Thank you hendo for let me take the penalty.. Stop drama now. We won that’s what it count.”

The second leg of the total-goals series is next week.

Elsewhere in Europe’s second-tier club competition, Everton and American goalkeeper Tim Howard rallied for a 4-1 win at Switzerland’s Young Boys as Romelu Lukaku scored a hat trick.

Roberto Soldado scored in the sixth minute as Tottenham tied 1-1 at home against visiting Fiorentina, which got a 36th-minute goal from Jose Basanta.

Henrique, Gonzalo Higuain and Manolo Gabbiadini scored in the first 27 minutes as Napoli beat Trabzonspor 4-0.

Defending champion Sevilla won 1-0 at home against Borussia Moenchengladbach and American defender Fabian Johnson, getting Vicente Iborra’s goal in the 70th minute.

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