Mario: Smile for the believers


The 24-year-old came off the bench to score seven minutes from time as Liverpool beat Spurs 3-2 at Anfield, boosting their chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

Despite notching his first league goal for the Reds, Balotelli barely mustered a smile and was one of the first players to leave the pitch at the final whistle.

However, the former Manchester City striker, who has now scored a total of three goals in 20 matches since joining Liverpool from AC Milan for £16m in the summer, later posted a message on his Instagram account.

“Great game guys!!! This smile is ONLY for those that always Believe and support me. Thank you. Forza Liverpool. But now head down and keep working hard. Tonight is past.”

Balotelli declined interviews after the win but Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe paid tribute to the Italy international for a telling contribution which leaves them three points behind third-placed Southampton.

“Mario always works hard in training,” Pascoe said. “He has been ill recently and he has had some knocks on his foot.

“It’s testament to him that he kept going and he deserved the winning goal in the end. He is immensely happy. If you get the winner at Anfield, I’m sure he’s happy.

“Mario knew he would have a part to play tonight and he certainly did.”