Mario Balotelli swapped shirts with Pepe at half-time

Mario Balotelli was substituted at half-time. (©GettyImages)

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli angered supporters at Anfield last night after swapping shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe as the players walked off the field at half-time, with the hosts already 3-0 down in Wednesday's Champions League group stage tie.

Unsurprisingly, the enigmatic Italian failed to reappear for the second half after Brendan Rodgers replaced him with Adam Lallana, although the Reds boss insisted in his post-match interview that the decision was purely tactical, as opposed to a response to the 24-year-old's ridiculous action at the interval.

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Balotelli could have no complaints about being hauled off, though, following another ineffective performance at the focal point of Liverpool's attack, with pressure increasing on the £16 million summer signing, who has scored just one solitary goal since joining the Merseyside club.

His perceived lack of commitment is another frustration held by the majority of Reds supporters, and the former Manchester City man's latest act of idiocy is unlikely to improve his rapidly diminishing reputation.

It was an altogether disappointing night for Liverpool, whose participation in Europe's elite club competition is already hanging by a thread after goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and two from Karim Benzema ensured back-to-back defeats for the Premier League outfit.

After making difficult work of beating Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets 1-0 in their previous home encounter, the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti's side was always going to be a task too difficult for the Reds.

The Champions League holders blew their opponents away with relative ease last night, and after losing 1-0 to FC Basel in the second round of fixtures Liverpool now have just three points from their opening three games.

Balotelli is likely to take a large portion of the blame for his side's lack of form - and he hasn't helped himself due to his ongoing stupidity - but the truth is that Liverpool appear to have much bigger problems than the ludicrous half-time shirt swap.

Rodgers indicated that the incident will be dealt with internally, but his more immediate concern must surely be improving the collective performance of his first-team squad, who look a far cry from the team that impressed so many people last season.

Watch footage of Mario Balotelli's half-time shirt swap with Real Madrid defender Pepe in the vine above, and have your say in the comment box provided what a suitable punishment for the Liverpool striker would be...

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