Brendan Rodgers highlighted the quality of Mario Balotelli after he fired his first Liverpool goal against Ludogorets Razgrad on Tuesday night – and believes the forward can use his maiden strike as a platform to build upon.

The Italian broke the deadlock after 81 minutes on a tense night at Anfield, firstly showing great physical strength to hold off the challenge of two visiting defenders and then deftly directing the ball into the far corner with the outside of his boot.

There was still more drama to come as Ludogorets equalised via Dani Abalo before Steven Gerrard netted the winner with an injury-time penalty to secure a hard-fought 2-1 success on Champions League matchday one.

Afterwards, Rodgers had words of praise for Balotelli, not only for his well-taken effort, but also his overall contribution to Liverpool's cause.

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The manager told his post-match press conference: "He's used to scoring. He'd already mentioned he'd had two games and hadn't scored.

"I just feel he needs to be in the box more. Because of his link-up play, he drops in. I said to him at half-time, just make sure when the ball is in wide areas you're penalty spot in, rather than penalty spot out - he finds himself pulling back outside the box for the cut-back a lot of the time.

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"He's six foot three and great in the air. When the cross came in, he showed great physical strength, a touch, and then the finish was a brilliant one. It was wonderful technique with the outside of his foot. It'll give him a whole load of confidence.

"On top of that I thought he worked very hard tonight - he worked and was pressing. He's still adapting and still trying to get fit because he's been behind the others in pre-season.

"He showed his quality tonight and that got us the goal."