Liverpool 1-0 Besiktas: Balotelli penalty gives Reds narrow first-leg lead

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Liverpool 1-0 Besiktas
Europa League, Last 32, First Leg
Anfield, Thursday, 19th February, 2015

Goal: Balotelli 85

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 19, 2015: Liverpool's players line up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match against Besiktas JK at Anfield. Front row L-R: Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou Sakho, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Martin Skrtel, Emre Can, Jordon Ibe. Front row L-R: Jordan Henderson, Alberto Moreno, Joe Allen, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Philippe Coutinho Correia. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a slow start to the game, the end of the first half saw a flurry of chances; Demba Ba was denied by Simon Mignolet when through on goal, while Liverpool went close through a Daniel Sturridge free-kick.

Alberto Moreno then hit a superb volley from outside the box and Jordan Henderson put a free-kick just wide from a similar position.

Jordon Ibe was often the Reds’ most attacking threat and started the second half in lively fashion, attacking the visitor’s full-back.

It was Henderson who fashioned the best chance of the game on 49 minutes, his run and cross down the right caused confusion between Besiktas keeper and centre-back but Adam Lallana couldn’t get the shot on target on the rebound. It was a poor miss.

Emre Can twice played a blind backpass which almost let in Ba, but he got it away with it on both occasions.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 19, 2015: Liverpool's Jordon Ibe in action against Besiktas JK's Olcay Sahan during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Just after the hour, Rodgers introduced Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli, pushing Emre Can into midfield and Balotelli up alongside Sturridge.

The changes though failed to kick Liverpool into life and it was a mostly flat second half.

That was until Ibe won the penalty with seven minutes remaining, he was brought down inside the box after another mazy run. Balotelli duly dispatched the spot kick to palpable relief around Anfield.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 19, 2015: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against Besiktas JK from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It proved to be the only game of the game and Balotelli had scored the winning goal as a substitute for the second week in a row at Anfield.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Ibe, Henderson, Allen (Lovren, 63), Moreno, Coutinho (Balotelli, 63), Lallana (Sterling, 77), Sturridge.

Subs not used: Ward, Lambert, Manquillo, Borini.

Besiktas: Cenk, Serdar, Ersan, Franco, Motta, Sahan (Koyunlu, 71), Kavlak, Hutchinson, Gökhan Töre, Jose Sosa (Ozyakup, 60), Demba Ba.

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