• Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets Razgrad, Champions Leage

Rodgers hails Balotelli for 'world-class' finish

ESPN staff
September 16, 2014
Brendan Rodgers praised his Liverpool players for grinding out a result © Getty Images
Enlarge

Brendan Rodgers hailed Mario Balotelli's "world-class" finish during Liverpool's winning return to the Champions League on Tuesday.

Balotelli, a £16 million summer signing from AC Milan, was largely quiet throughout their 2-1 victory against Ludogorets at Anfield before he fired Liverpool ahead in the 82nd minute with a superb solo effort in front of the Kop.

"It was a wonderful finish," Rodgers told ITV. "We've said to him to get in the box more, that was important for him.

"He's got great technique, sometimes when the ball's in the wide areas he spends a lot of time outside of the box but when he's in there, his strength and power to take the touch was a world-class finish."

Steven Gerrard's added-time penalty gave Rodgers' side the win after Dani Abalo's late equaliser appeared to have earned the Bulgarian champions a surprise draw.

And while it wasn't a vintage performance from Liverpool - one which captain Gerrard warned his team-mates will need to learn from - Rodgers praised his players for eventually grinding out a win.

"I think it was a great night for everyone at the club, the first time in five years [Liverpool has hosted a Champions League game] so to get the result was excellent," Rodgers added. "My congratulations to the players because they showed great character and commitment to get the result tonight.

"I don't think we are at the level we were at last year. I think that that will come. There has been a lot of new players that have come in to the club and they're still adapting to how we work with them so that's going to take a wee bit of time.

"Until that comes, to show that character and determination to get the result is very important, and to do that in the Champions League is important. There are no poor sides, so to get the win tonight was very important."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close