In Review

Balotelli 'finally' comes good as Liverpool scrape past Swansea

Italian striker comes off the bench to score equaliser and help Reds into League Cup quarter finals

Liverpool 2 Swansea 1.Mario Balotelli came good for Liverpool on Tuesday night when he scored the vital equaliser in their fourth round Capital Cup tie against Swansea. Balotelli's strike, four minutes from full-time, cancelled out Marvin Emnes' effort for the visitors and Swansea then suffered the heartbreak of seeing Dejan Lovren score a stoppage time winner for the Reds to send them through to the last eight.

It was Balotelli's second goal (and his first since 16 September) since arriving in the summer in a £16m deal from AC Milan and the Italian striker was clearly relieved to have got on the scoresheet again. His Twitter account has the handle @finallymario and "Finally" was the one word message to his fans a couple of hours after the victory.

Finally!

 

— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) October 28, 2014

But Balotelli can't help being Balotelli and his role in the win over Swansea wasn't without controversy. As the Daily Mirror reports, he had angry exchange with Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey, one "that spilled over after the final whistle, when the pair had to be separated".

Swansea manager Garry Monk was less concerned about the skirmish between Shelvey and Balotelli than the red card dished out to defender Federico Fernandez in stoppage time for a challenge on Philippe Coutinho. Seconds after Fernandez's dismissal, Lovren rose to head home the winner and send the Swans out of the cup.  "It's clearly not a red card – I've watched it back about 30 times and, if anything, the Liverpool player's foot was higher than our player's," stormed Monk. "It was yet another decision to add to the list. I said to the lads in the dressing room afterwards - the decisions are going against us, but we just have to get on with it. I just hope the referee sees sense and rescinds it."

Monk added that with Fernandez on the pitch his side might well have prevented Lovren heading the winner. They might or might not, it's one of life's imponderables. A bit like Balotelli.

In recent days rumours have been growing that the former Manchester City forward could be offloaded by Liverpool as early as January if he doesn't shape up in the next two months. His late goal last night will help win over the fans but Liverpool assistant coach Colin Pascoe revealed that Balotelli nearly didn't make the game after suffering a scare before kick-off.

"He twisted his studs in the ground in the warm up," explained Pascoe, adding that Balotelli had been given the all-clear to play only after a physio's assessment. "It was a relief he could play really, and we're lucky... I felt he got his just reward coming on and getting that goal."

Balotelli replaced Rickie Lambert on 79 minutes and the Italian looked sharp from his first stride. Seven minutes after coming in, Balotelli converted Fabio Borini's cross and Pascoe hopes the goal will be the turning point of his Liverpool career. "He wants to work so hard here. He wants to work on his movement and his finishing after every session. It's something for him to build on now."

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