Pedro Proenca of Portugal is no outsider, like the Tunisian ref who went for the blatant Maradona punched goal in 1986.
Proenca has handled Cameroon-Croatia and Japan-Colombia in this World Cup and also Bayern Munich-Chelsea in the Champions League and Spain-Italy in the Euro tournament.
He should know cynical flopping when it happens a few steps away from him.
Proenca should have seen the minimal and intentional contact from Arjen Robben of the Netherlands to Rafa Marquez of Mexico for what it was – an attempt to game the ref.
Robben, who had the most energy on the field in the last 20 minutes, also had the wits to hook his foot onto the leg of Marquez, who is no angel but in that case was not about to do anything brutal. The ref saw Robben tumble and gave the Netherlands a penalty kick – and the match.
The ref was suckered.
The flop and PK and the 2-1 victory put the Netherlands into the quarterfinal and made the result look like another Mexico fold in the Round of 16, but the Mexicans made a long and valiant trip from nearly being eliminated in regional play.
There is no grand moral to this. It proves nothing good or bad about soccer. Diving is a fact of life. Smart players work the ref. Most refs wave “play on” most of the time on a play just like that.
Mexico got itself in trouble by not being able to keep the Dutch occupied on the other end of the field. Chicharito Hernandez in to help hold a 1-0 lead? No, señor. And in my den, I called the big sub, Huntelaar, as a menace up front against the smaller Mexicans late in the match. But still…
The Mexican keeper, Memo Ochoa, deserved better. Mexico is done, but Ochoa remains a candidate for best keeper in this tournament.
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Another observation: the ESPN broadcasters, Fernando Palomo and Alejandro Moreno, have been superb -- supple in English, speaking in concepts and original thoughts, a distinct difference from the English broadcasters who call the action.
Is there something wrong with me that I cannot tell the British voices apart? They often seem to be calling the classic Monty Python Philosophers’ World Cup: “Beckenbauer obviously a bit of a surprise there.” I hope Palomo and Moreno are through to the late rounds. I hope Pedro Proenca is not.
"The day after my 80th birthday, which overflowed with good wishes, surprises and Covid-safe celebrations, I awoke feeling fulfilled and thinking that whatever happens going forward, I’m OK with it. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is empty, my family is thriving, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.
"Not that I expect to do anything to hasten my demise. I will continue to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and strive to minimize stress. But I’m also now taking stock of the many common hallmarks of aging and deciding what I need to reconsider."
--Jane E. Brody, my pal in the NYT newsroom, oh, a few years back, in the Personal Health column, Sept. 13, 2021.
"People have said to me, ‘You’re fully vaccinated. Why are you being so careful?’” said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m still in the camp of I don’t want to get Covid. I don’t want to get a breakthrough infection.”
---Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Aug. 16, 2021.