Saturday 18 November 2017

Poll: Did Wayne Rooney dive to win penalty for Manchester United?

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney falls to the ground after Preston's Thorsten Stuckmann (not pictured) conceded a penalty against him
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney falls to the ground after Preston's Thorsten Stuckmann (not pictured) conceded a penalty against him

Paul Hirst

Roy Hodgson jumped to the defence of Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United and England captain was accused of diving to win a penalty in the 3-1 win at Preston.

United set up a mouth-watering FA Cup fifth round tie against Arsenal thanks to goals from Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Rooney, who converted a late spot kick to seal the win.

Rooney went down in the box to win the penalty after Preston goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann rushed off his line to challenge him.

Replays showed there was no contact between the Preston stopper and Rooney, but the England manager - sat in the BBC studio at Deepdale - insisted his captain had every right to go to ground.

When asked whether Rooney had dived, Hodgson said: "Not for me. I just think he was taking evasive action.

"If you are a referee in the run of play without replays I don't think any of us would have said it is not a penalty.

"The goalkeeper has gone with both feet. Wayne has touched it past him."

Former United full-back Phil Neville - who was also at the game for the BBC - agreed with the England boss.

Neville even suggested that had Rooney gone for the ball rather than jump over the goalkeeper, his season could have been wrecked by a leg break.

"When the keeper is flying out he has to get out the way," Neville said.

"You might say it's a dive, but if he left his leg there it would be a leg breaker.

"He had to dive. He had to get out of the way or else he would have snapped his leg."

Simon Grayson believes Stuckmann made no contact with the United striker, whose penalty ended a seven-and-a-half week goal drought with the spot-kick.

The Preston boss was loathe to criticise Rooney though.

"I am not saying it wasn't a penalty. I am saying there was no contact," the former Leeds manager said.

"You can interpret that how you want. It wasn't a dive. He has gone to get out of the way and take evasive action. I am not complaining."

Former England and Southampton midfielder Matt Le Tissier was less forgiving, writing on Twitter: "Rooney didnt (sic) dive to get out of the way of the challenge he did it to win a penalty. Get real people.

"It was entirely feasible to have stayed on his feet AND.avoid the poor challenge from keeper. He chose to dive and conned the ref."

Press Association

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