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EPL: It's not about Mario!

Controversial Balotelli debuts for Liverpool, but doesn't score in 3-0 win over Spurs

London: Liverpool rolled out the red carpet for Mario Balotelli as they marked the Italy striker's debut with an impressive 3-0 win over Tottenham yesterday.

Reds riding good: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with teammates Mario Balotelli (left) and Daniel Sturridge (right) after scoring a penalty during the English Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, London yesterday. Liverpool won 3-0. Pic/AFP
Reds riding good: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with teammates Mario Balotelli (left) and Daniel Sturridge (right) after scoring a penalty during the English Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, London yesterday. Liverpool won 3-0. Pic/AFP 

Balotelli started as the centre of attention at White Hart Lane on his return to the Premier League after a $26 million transfer from AC Milan.

But the controversial former Manchester City player was eventually overshadowed by a majestic display from his new teammates which emphasised they can thrive despite the sale of star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

Missed chances
Balotelli delivered a typically erratic show, offering glimpses of his talent but also missing several chances before being replaced in the 61st minute.

But his presence seemed to revitalise Liverpool after Monday's loss at Manchester City and Raheem Sterling opened the scoring early in the first half before Steven Gerrard's penalty soon after the interval was followed by Alberto Moreno's solo effort.

Brendan Rodgers' 100th match in charge of Liverpool brought his 56th victory, equalling the records of Bill Shankly and Rafael Benitez over the same period, and the Reds boss can expect many more memorable afternoons on the evidence on a scintillating display which ended Tottenham's four-match winning run in ruthless style.

Rodgers is determined to curb the worst of the temperamental Balotelli and has already insisted life at Anfield won't become 'the Mario show'.

But Mario was well aware that Sunday's clash was all about him. He was the last Liverpool player to emerge from the tunnel before kick-off, trailing behind his teammates with a grin on his face as photographers crowded around him.

'Mario was excellent'
"I thought he was excellent. He's bought straight into our team ethic. He's trained well and has put all that background noise about him to one side. He's been brilliant," Rodgers said about his new maverick striker.

About the match, Rodgers said: "Overall our quality was exceptional. We got three goals and could have had more."

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