The Hague - Dutch newspapers on Monday praised the Oranje's “miracle” World Cup victory against Mexico, but opinions were divided whether striker Arjen Robben should have been awarded a controversial late match-winning penalty.
Seconds before a dramatic end to the game, Bayern Munich star Robben tumbled to the turf after making contact with Mexico defender Rafael Marquez.
Robben has admitted he dived when trying to win a penalty in the first half but insists the late spot kick converted by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was justified.
Some commentators said the kick was “deserved”, others just that it was “desired”.
“Robben already deserved a penalty kick earlier in the match, when he was first touched by Marquez and then brought down by Hector Moreno,” populist broadsheet De Telegraaf stated.
“Finally in injury time Robben got his deserved penalty from (referee Pedro) Proenca and Huntelaar sent the Netherlands to the quarter finals,” it said.
“Well deserved, because the Dutch kept footballing while Mexico was merely defending a 1-0 lead,” it added.
Centre-left tabloid De Volkskrant who called the win a “miracle escape due to team and fighting spirit” was more guarded.
“Robben was a boxer looking for the knockout blow against a reeling opponent,” the paper said.
“Finally, (he) got a desired penalty after a somewhat exaggerated fall over Marquez' leg,” De Volkskrant said.
It eulogised Huntelaar's kick, calling him the “one-man help desk” of the Dutch team.
“From hell to heaven in six minutes,” said popular daily tabloid Algemene Dagblad, hailing Huntelaar.
“'King Klaas' stayed as cool as a cucumber in the immense heat,” said the paper which added: “From an almost certain knockout to perhaps world champions.”
De Volkskrant criticised coach Louis van Gaal “who clung to a defensive tactic against a not-overly strong Mexico, (a tactic) which at times insulted the expert's eye”.
“I was severely irritated with the type of game,” the paper quoted Dutch football analyst Jan Mulder telling Belgian sports channel Sporza.
“Now it's going well, but does the team really think they can win the World Cup with this type of system?” he asked.
“In hindsight it perhaps went too well against Spain,” who the Netherlands beat 5-1 in their World Cup opener, De Volkskrant said.