22 October 2014 23:55
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was disappointed to learn that Mario Balotelli swapped shirts at half-time in the 3-0 loss to Real Madrid.
Balotelli endured another goalless 45 minutes in a Liverpool shirt as UEFA Champions League holders Real dominated the opening half of the Group B clash at Anfield.
The Italy international was about to enter the players’ tunnel when he was approached by Real defender Pepe and apparently asked to exchange jerseys, a request he immediately obliged with before being substituted in favour of Adam Lallana.
Balotelli’s actions drew criticism from former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness, who was working as a television pundit, and Rodgers shared that exasperation following another frustrating chapter in the player’s fledgling career on Merseyside.
“It’s something that I don’t like to see.” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“I’ve seen it happen in other leagues and in other countries but it’s certainly something that doesn’t happen here and shouldn’t happen.
“We had an incident here with a player [Mamadou Sakho] which I dealt with and if that’s the case then I’ll deal with that as well.”
But Liverpool’s problems extend far beyond Balotelli’s form and actions, with some below-par defending playing a key factor in a second consecutive European loss.
Karim Benzema twice capitalised on sluggish Liverpool play in their own box after Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb opener to go within one of Real great Raul’s Champions League goalscoring record of 71.
From 3-0 down at the interval, Rodgers was pleased with the spirit his players showed in avoiding any further damage.
“We defended poorly on one or two of the goals but I can’t ask for any more – we probably needed to get a goal in that opening period,” he added.
“We’ll look at it and learn but we were punished by a top-class side.”