By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro
Netherlands star Arjen Robben says he was too honest in confessing to a ‘silly’ dive against Mexico – but remains adamant that he did not cheat to win his team’s decisive penalty in the World Cup last-16 clash.
Holland beat Mexico 2-1 in Fortaleza on Sunday when Robben won a 93rd-minute spot-kick after a challenge from Rafael Marquez, which substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted to book a quarter-final match against Costa Rica.
Robben was branded a ‘cheat’ by Mexico coach Miguel Herrera and caused a storm when he admitted after the game that he had dived earlier in the match in an attempt to win a free-kick.
On Monday, the Bayern Munich man sought to clarify his comments in a press conference at the Netherlands’ training base in Rio de Janeiro, at which he claimed that he was too honest for his own good.
Robben said: “It’s a shame because yesterday in an interview I was very honest. Maybe honesty is sometimes punished.
“I always prefer to be honest and I said there was one foul in the first half where I went to the ground when the opponent took his leg away at the last moment.
“That was silly from me but it didn’t influence the game. It had nothing to do with the game and the penalty was a clear penalty.
“I apologise for the action in the first-half but that’s football and it had nothing to do with the game.
“We had two clear penalties, one was given and that’s it. We shouldn’t think about it anymore.”
The victory for Louis van Gaal’s men was the third time in the tournament that they have come from behind to win a match and extended their record to four victories from four matches in Brazil.
Holland will be favourites to reach the semi-final when they face Costa Rica in Salvador on Saturday, and Robben believes the Dutch squad is full of confidence.
“We are very proud to reach the quarter-finals and that is the main thing for us. I think the cardiologists in Holland are very happy with us.
“Costa Rica is a very good team. They were in a very difficult group and not many people expected them to go through, but they are a very strong team.
“We have a chance [to win the World Cup]. We have a lot of confidence in the team.
“I feel good. I have the strength and power to get away from my opponents and I am feeling good at the moment.”