Robben will not face Fifa wrap following diving admission

Fifa has confirmed that no retrospective action will be taken against the Netherlands international after he revealed he exaggerated contact against Mexico

Netherlands forward Arjen Robben will not face retrospective action for admitting he dived against Mexico, Fifa has announced.

Bayern Munich star Robben won the decisive penalty, converted by substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, as the Dutch completed a dramatic last-gasp comeback to earn a 2-1 win in the World Cup round of 16 over Mexico on Sunday.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera claimed the player dived on three occasions, but Fifa spokeswoman Delia Fischer confirmed Robben was in the clear as he would only have received a yellow card had Pedro Proenca opted to punish him for diving.

“Simulation is not something we want to see on the field of play but the referees are trained to identify these simulations and punish them by showing yellow cards,” Fischer said.

“The disciplinary committee will look into serious infringements. We appeal to the spirit of fair play which is the over-arching message we have.”

Robben is set to give a media briefing of his own on Tuesday following the furore caused by his comments and, in a statement on their official website, the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) criticised media interpretations of the winger’s interview.

“KNVB is unpleasantly surprised by publications in the media about the Dutch penalty in the match versus Mexico,” the statement read.

“Media have interpreted statements from Robben in a Dutch post-match interview completely wrong.

“In a studio interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS, the forward stated that the decision of the referee to give a penalty in the second half of the game was perfectly right.

“However, in the same interview Robben referred to two situations earlier in the match (first half), when he was brought down. The striker stated that in one of those situations he should have been granted a penalty, but that in the other case he was falling too easily.”

Netherlands’ next World Cup match is a quarter-final against surprise package Costa Rica on Saturday.

Liverpool tried to sign Robben – Carragher

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The next great No.10? Shaqiri can shape his future against Messi and Co.

COMMENT: ‘The Alpine Messi’ looked revitalised playing from the middle against Honduras and another eye-catching display against Argentina should attract more admiring glances

When Switzerland take on Argentina in Tuesday’s World Cup last-16 clash, the weight of expectation of an entire country will rest squarely on the shoulders of one man. And Lionel Messi will be in the spotlight too.

Xherdan Shaqiri received widespread criticism after his tame showings in his side’s narrow win over Ecuador and resounding defeat by France, with plenty back at home wondering if his broad shoulders could bear the pressure of a nation. A shift in position and a stunning hat-trick later promptly silenced the naysayers.

Deployed in his accustomed wide position for the first two group games, Shaqiri was frustrated by Ecuador and anonymous against France, while Granit Xhaka laboured on and off the ball behind the central striker. Ottmar Hitzfeld had to find a way to unleash the Swiss’ greatest weapon. Against Honduras, he found it.

With Xhaka moved to the wing and Shaqiri deployed behind Josip Drmic, Switzerland’s attack suddenly had a spark. Shaqiri was sharp, skilful, his scintillating hat-trick a brutal and clinical display of finishing prowess. And given the alarming ease with which Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa exploited Argentina through central areas, the 22-year-old could well have given Alejandro Sabella some sleepless nights ahead of Tuesday.

“He really displayed today what he is capable of,” Hitzfeld said after the 3-0 win in Manaus. “This is the confirmation of all the potential he has. “This is a new position for him. In midfield, he needs to run more and this tests his concentration, but we can only congratulate him for scoring three goals.”

In truth, the role was not entirely alien to Shaqiri. Jupp Heynckes more than once deployed him behind Mario Mandzukic during Bayern’s 2012-13 treble-winning season; in his breakthrough performance in Europe, Basel’s 2-1 Champions League win over Manchester United in 2011, he wrestled the ball away from Wayne Rooney just outside the D of United’s area en route to his second assist of the night.

But this was the first indication of a willingness to build the side around the ‘Alpine Messi’ in a starring central role, in much the same way as Brazil and Netherlands have benfited from moving Neymar and Arjen Robben infield. And it showed just why Liverpool, Roma, AC Milan and others are so keen on his signature.

Liverpool have been monitoring Shaqiri ever since he admitted in May that his reduced game time under Pep Guardiola could force him out of Germany and, with the banned Luis Suarez’s future very much in the balance, a deal makes more sense than ever for Brendan Rodgers – especially should his form as a No.10 continue.

Suarez embodied the dynamism which made Liverpool so dangerous last season: speed on the turn, guile on the ball and a willingness to link up with a surging attack. Shaqiri, though in a deeper role, offers much of the same. His three goals against Honduras – a blistering long-rage shot, a cleverly-timed dart and finish and a composed side-foot home following a late run – showcased his remarkable blend of attacking attributes that first shone at Basel in 2009.

“I think Xherdan did his job very well against Honduras, we knew he could play this position,” Switzerland team-mate Admir Mehmedi said. “With a playmaker, we’re a lot more creative in our attacking game. He can spin around very fast and play deep passes.”

Roma, Milan and Juventus have also been credited with an interest in Shaqiri, but a move to Serie A seems unlikely should his transformation continue. He would not suit the 4-3-3 used by Rudi Garcia and considered by Antonio Conte for next season, and though he would make an apt replacement for Kaka, Filippo Inzaghi has a Mario Balotelli-shaped problem to solve before rebuilding work at San Siro can begin in earnest.

Despite boasting Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and – should the transfer go through – Adam Lallana for competition, Liverpool still represent the better fit for Shaqiri. While it is hard to compare playing stats from last season given he only completed 90 minutes twice in the Bundesliga, his 100 per cent tackle success rate and impressive passing and shooting accuracy prove his suitability to playing at the head of a midfield diamond or in behind Daniel Sturridge, with or without Suarez in the team.

Hitzfeld may have been quizzed incessantly on how he will stop Messi, but Shaqiri could yet have the chance to upstage his Argentina counterpart in Tuesday’s encounter – and you can bet that plenty of eyes to the north and south of the Alps will be keeping a careful watch.

Mertesacker: I don't care how Germany played

The defender responded angrily to criticism of his side’s performance as they reached the World Cup quarter-finals the 2-1 victory over Algeria after extra-time in Porto Algre

By Matheus Harb in Porto Alegre

Germany defender Per Mertesacker insists performances do not matter after his side scraped through their World Cup last 16 clash against Algeria with a 2-1 win after extra-time on Monday.

Joachim Low’s side struggled during a goalless 90 minutes in Porto Alegre but reached the quarter-finals thanks to goals in extra-time from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil.

Abdelmoumene Djabou grabbed a late consolation for the north Africans but Germany held on to book a last eight fixture against France on Friday at the Maracana.

Mertesacker responded angrily when asked about Germany’s unconvincing performance and praised the fighting spirit in the side.

“I don’t care. We’re in the last eight and that’s what counts,” the Arsenal defender told ZDF.

“What do you want from me? Do you believe there is a carnival team here in the round of last 16? We went over 120 minutes and we fought until the end and I think we won deservedly.

“What do you want? Shall we play beautiful again and then drop out? Seriously, I don’t understand these questions.”

Germany captain Philippe Lahm admitted his team found it hard against Algeria and lamented a number of missed chances in the second half of the game.

“We knew it was going to be a tough task,” he insisted. “They wanted to give everything and that’s what they did. And it is clear: If you don’t convert your chances, you have to go in extra-time.

“They defended well, had many people around their penalty area and that made it difficult. We were not good on the counter. We were not placed well when we attacked and that led to the chances they had.”

Robben: I was too honest for my own good about silly dive

The Netherlands forward has hit back at ‘cheat’ claims and insists he did not try to con the referee for the decisive penalty in his side’s 2-1 win over Mexico

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.”