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Netherlands saved by spot kick

Monday, June 30, 2014

Update: 10:36AM Arjen Robben did little to defuse the debate about his reputation for diving after an injury time penalty was awarded in Netherlands' second round World Cup match against Mexico early today.

The Netherlands winger earned the penalty and then watched as teammate Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted from the spot to give the Dutch a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.

The penalty was earned when Robben collapsed theatrically under a challenge from captain Rafael Marquez, causing emotional Mexico coach Miguel Herrera to blame his team's loss on referee Pedro Proenca.

"We ended up losing because he whistled a penalty that did not exist," he said, adding that Robben "dived three times. The referee should have cautioned him".

Mexico fans reacted similarly, venting their rage online.

''He cheated, it's sickening,'' said one Mexican fan amid a storm of reaction on Twitter.

''The type of embellishment employed by Robben is exactly what drives Americans crazy,'' added a sympathetic US football-lover.

Throughout his career, Robben has had a reputation for frequently falling and looking for a penalty or free kick.

But the 30-year-old Bayern Munich star appeared to have matured. In recent seasons, it has been his scintillating form rather than theatrical falls that have grabbed headlines.

He set up a goal and scored the winner in Bayern Munich's 2013 Champions League final win and has been in the form of his life in Brazil, scoring three times and providing an inch-perfect assist for a Memphis Depay goal in the three Dutch victories in Group B.

In Fortaleza's Arena Castelao he appeared to be unlucky not to have won a penalty shortly before half time, when Mexico defenders Marquez and Hector Moreno raced back to tackle him after he linked up with Robin van Persie in a fast break.

''If that wasn't a penalty, I don't know what is,'' Robben said.

But he conceded that he had taken one dive earlier in the first half that the referee waved off.

''I have to say, in the first half - and right away offer my excuses - I dived. I mustn't do that. It was another stupid action,'' he told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Mexico captain Marquez told reporters that Robben conceded he had dived in injury time too - though Robben did not say that on Dutch TV.

''I spoke with him (Robben) after the match and he told me that it was not a penalty,'' Marquez said.

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