Liverpool defender Kolo Toure has no doubt team-mate Mario Balotelli is one of the best players in the world and is backing the striker to go on a scoring run following his goal in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup win over Swansea.
On an eventful evening for the maverick frontman, Balotelli helped his side secure a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory in the fourth-round tie at Anfield, notching their equaliser in the 86th minute – only seven minutes after his introduction as a substitute.
With it being just his second goal in 12 games since his move to Liverpool and first in nine, the close-range finish was a welcome boost for Balotelli, although he was also involved in a couple of moments of controversy.
One was an off-the-ball confrontation with Swans midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and there were further words exchanged between the pair after the final whistle as they headed off the pitch.
Another came pre-match, when Balotelli was sent away from a warm-up exercise by Reds coach Mike Marsh, something Liverpool assistant boss Colin Pascoe later stressed had happened because of no issue other than the player having suffered a minor knee problem.
As for the man himself, Balotelli expressed his relief at finding the net again with a message on his official Twitter account simply reading: “Finally!”
And Toure, who also played with the 24-year-old at Manchester City, has every confidence Balotelli will soon be celebrating more goals.
“For strikers, goals are like food,” said Toure, quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
“Mario needs to feed himself by scoring goals. Now he’s got that one he will do that now, definitely.
“Getting that goal will be fantastic for his confidence. He is a great player, he has just been lacking goals.
“Mario is my mate and I’ve tried to help him like (Liverpool captain) Stevie (Gerrard), the manager (Brendan Rodgers) and everyone else in the dressing room.
“We all know he’s a top player. I always tell him ‘you need to get out there and show you are one of the best players in the world’.
“He is one of the best. He has just been missing goals but they will come now.”
In a hectic finale to the tie, Balotelli’s goal was followed by a red card for Swansea defender Federico Fernandez in stoppage time – the latest in a series of refereeing decisions that has left the Welsh outfit’s boss Garry Monk fuming – and then a 95th-minute headed winner from Dejan Lovren.
The visitors had earlier taken the lead in the 65th minute through a fine volleyed effort by Marvin Emnes. The Dutch striker, who joined Swansea permanently over the summer after spending the second half of 2013-14 on loan with them from Middlesbrough, was making his first start of the season and netting his second goal of the campaign – the first having come in the previous round of the competition. And Emnes is delighted to be making an impression.
“I was in the right place and I hit it right into the corner,” the 26-year-old told www.swanseacity.net. “It was a good goal and I’m delighted to have scored.
“Every time you have a chance to impress the manager you have to take it. That was my first chance of the night and I took it, which was very pleasing. “But the game is 90 minutes long and everything changed within a few moments.
“They got their equaliser, then the red card is shown and they get a winner with virtually the last kick. We had worked so hard and to lose like that is very disappointing, particularly for our fans.”