Did Wayne Rooney dive to win a penalty for Manchester United in their FA Cup win against Preston North End?
It's a pretty simple question, but one that doesn't seem to have a clear answer. No, there wasn't any contact. Yes, he would have been cleaned out if he hadn't taken evasive action to get out of the way.
When the incident happened in real-time, it looked like a pretty straightforward decision for referee Phil Dowd. Goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann came racing out of his goal and took the striker down.
But slow-motion replays showed that his slide didn't actually make any contact with the Red Devils skipper, who didn't hesitate to go down after knocking the ball past the keeper.
Now, Arsenal fans will say that Rooney has history. A similar incident occurred when the two sides met in the Premier League at Old Trafford back in 2009. The suggestion was that he was going down before contact. In 2004, there was another incident against the Gunners when Sol Campbell was judged to have brought the player down.
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Anyone wanting to take a swipe at Rooney can point at these past incidents and say it's evidence that the striker is prone to taking a tumble. We saw it again at Deepdale last night.
Stan Collymore and Matt Le Tissier are two of the ex-professionals to come down on the anti-Rooney side of this - Collymore saying Rooney is better than that; Le Tissier saying he was simply diving to win a penalty, end of.
Must go down
The reality is though, that Rooney must go down in this situation. Collymore certainly would have done the same, Le Tissier probably wouldn't have had the pace to get into that position. Both are kidding themselves to suggest anything else.
The fact that Preston boss Simon Grayson has come out in defence of Rooney tells you everything you need to know, whilst England manager Roy Hodgson was also quick to defend his captain - no surprise there.
But, if this was a World Cup final and Rooney was in the same position, it's simply ludicrous to suggest that he should stay on his feet. The goalkeeper has made a mistake and a rash sliding challenge. The striker takes evasive action to get out of the way and goes down because of it.
He could try and stay on his feet, of course. That's not the reality of the world we live in. You can call it a dive if you want, but it's quite simply professional football.
If Rooney finds himself in the same situation again, expect the same outcome. You should expect the referee to do his job and give a penalty every time too. That's vindication alone for the Manchester United striker.
What do you think - did Rooney dive to win a penalty or was there no option but to go down? Have your say below...
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