Despite an underwhelming start to his Liverpool career and some controversy in midweek when he swapped shirts at half-time with Real Madrid's Pepe, Mario Balotelli retained the faith of manager Brendan Rodgers as Hull visited Anfield in the Barclays Premier League. Here, we take a look at the Italian's performance.
One of the chief areas in which Balotelli has been criticised, but he looked up for the challenge in this game from the first minute. There was little of the lazy, languid demeanour or gestures of frustration that people have highlighted in recent performances. He seemed determined.
Balotelli was often up front on his own, but he did work hard to bring others into play when he could. This did not always work out and some of his passes were wayward, but the effort could not be faulted. One pass did seem perfect to tee up Dejan Lovren to score, after a set-piece, but the defender completely miskicked. A backheeled pass early on also delighted the crowd.
A lot has also been made of Balotelli's lack of work when not in possession, particularly in comparison to the departed Luis Suarez. But again, while not in Suarez's class, he did show willingness to make tackles. His running off the ball when Liverpool were in possession was also positive.
Got few sights of goal, but his one clear-cut chance in the first half brought a decent save out of Eldin Jakupovic. He was frustrated a bit in the second half, with further attempts blocked and a near failure to connect with a header.
Given that Balotelli again failed to find the net - seven Premier League appearances without a goal now for the Reds - this will go down as another blank afternoon. But statistics do not tell the full story and this was a much improved performance. The workrate could not be faulted and with more displays like this, confidence should grow and the quality show.
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