No Era Penal: The Day Arjen Robben Became Mexico's No. 1 Villain

Dutchman Arjen Robben is persona non grata in the Mexican soccer universe. Millions of fans cannot forget his preposterous "No era penal" dive in the 2014 World Cup and how this stole El Tri's chances of advancing to the dreamed fifth game. 

Time passes, and there is no way to forget. Every June 29, the memory relentlessly returns to the Arena Castelão in Brazil to relive the nightmare. And today — of course — it is no exception.

Up to the 87th minute, Mexico was winning the game 1-0 thanks to a beautiful long-range left-footed shot by Giovani dos Santos, but suddenly everything went sour, bitter. A thunderous Wesley Sneijder volley equalized the game, and then ... the Flopping Dutchman.  

Robben entered the Mexicans' box at top speed in injury time and after seeing Rafa Márquez's right leg going a little imprudent, he decided to perform an Olympic-worthy clavado that Portuguese ref Pedro Proença sanctioned as a penalty kick. 

At the time, there was no VAR, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored from the spot to unfairly punish the Mexican hopes. 

In the same game, Robben had tried to trick the officials several times. And after the match was over, he apologized for those occasions. However, he never did for the play that keeps haunting Mexican fans. 

"I must apologize. The one at the end was a penalty, but the other was a dive in the first half," he said to Dutch TV. "I shouldn't be doing that. That was a stupid, stupid thing to do."

No era penal: Mexico vs. Netherlands 2014 WC — Where are they now?

As bonus content, here are the lineups of both teams in that infamous afternoon, comparing where those players were at the time to where they are doing now.

Mexico lineup

Guillermo Ochoa

  • Club in 2014: Ajaccio
  • Today: América

Francisco Rodríguez

  • Club in 2014: Cruz Azul
  • Today: Retired

Rafael Márquez

  • Club in 2014: León
  • Today: Barcelona B (Head coach)

Héctor Moreno

  • Club in 2014: Espanyol
  • Today: Monterrey

Paul Aguilar

  • Club in 2014: América
  • Today: Free agent

Miguel Layún

  • Club in 2014: América
  • Today: América

Héctor Herrera

  • Club in 2014: Porto
  • Today: Houston Dynamo

Carlos Salcido

  • Club in 2014: Chivas
  • Today: Retired

Andrés Guardado

  • Club in 2014: Valencia
  • Today: Real Betis

Oribe Peralta

  • Club in 2014: América
  • Today: Retired

Giovani dos Santos

  • Club in 2014: Villarreal
  • Today: Free agent

México Subs

Diego Reyes

  • Club in 2014: Porto
  • Today: Tigres

Javier Hernández

  • Club in 2014: Manchester United
  • Today: LA Galaxy

Javier Aquino

  • Club in 2014: Villarreal
  • Today: Tigres

Netherlands lineup

Jasper Cillessen

  • Club in 2014: Ajax
  • Today: Valencia

Paul Verhaegh

  • Club in 2014: FC Augsburg
  • Today: Retired

Ron Vlaar

  • Club in 2014: Aston Vila 
  • Today: Retired

Stefan de Vrij

  • Club in 2014: Feyenoord
  • Today: Inter Milan

Daley Blind 

  • Club in 2014: Ajax
  • Today: Ajax

Nigel de Jong

  • Club in 2014: AC Milan
  • Today: Retired

Dirk Kuyt

  • Club in 2014: Fenerbahçe
  • Today: ADO den Haag (Head coach)

Georginio Wijnaldum

  • Club in 2014: PSV
  • Today: PSG

Wesley Sneijder

  • Club in 2014: Galatasaray
  • Today: Retired

Robin van Persie

  • Club in 2014: Manchester United 
  • Today: Retired

Arjen Robben

  • Club in 2014: Bayern Munich
  • Today: Retired

Netherlands subs

Bruno Martins Indi

  • Club in 2014: Porto
  • Today: AZ Alkmaar

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

  • Club in 2014: Schalke 04
  • Today: Retired

Memphis Depay

  • Club in 2014: PSV
  • Today: Barcelona

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