Japan beat Denmark to advance with Netherlands (Roundup)

June 25th, 2010 - 4:54 am ICT by IANS  

Bayern Munich Cape Town, June 25 (DPA) Japan beat Denmark 3-1 Thursday to reach the Round of 16 at the world cup from Group E along with the already qualified Netherlands.
Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo scored with classy free-kicks in the first half hour in Rustenburg, Jon Dahl Tomasson got lucky on the rebound of his saved penalty in the 81th but Shinji Okazaki ended all doubts about the winner in the 87th.

The Dutch defeated Cameroon 2-1 in the other game in Cape Town, with Robin van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar on target, Samuel Eto’o getting a temporary equaliser for Cameroon, and Arjen Robben making his world cup debut late in the game.

The Dutch finished with a maximum nine points and now meet holder Italy’s conquerors Slovakia Monday in Durban. Japan had six points and will play Paraguay Tuesday in Pretoria. Denmark and Cameroon were eliminated on three and zero points, respectively.

Japan reached the second phase of the world cup for only the second time, the first being 2002 on home soil, in the winner-takes-all duel with the Danes.

The opening goal arrived on 18 minutes from the predictable source of Honda, who sent a 35-yard free-kick wobbling and wavering through the air and past a befuddled Sorensen.

The second, 12 minutes later, was more orthodox as Endo, the Asian Player of the Year, clipped his set-play over the wall and inside Sorensen’s left-hand post.

Nicolas Bendtner rattled the bar with a speculative long-ranger for the Danes who were then back in the match in the 81st. Hasebe bundled over Daniel Agger in the box and, although Tomasson’s weak penalty was saved, he knocked in the rebound.

But Japan seemed unruffled, and with three minutes remaining Okazaki rolled in the decisive third after brilliant approach play from Honda.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada said that “the first goal has been achieved” while the CSKA Moscow ace Honda was looking further ahead.

“We are not yet where we want to be. I have always said that it’s not impossible to win the World Cup,” he said.

However, the Dutch are likely stronger contenders for the July 11 title as they matched Argentina with a third group win (a feat Brazil can achieve as well Friday).

The Dutch did not risk Robben from the start after his hamstring injury, leaving the Bayern Munich man on the bench as they were already assured of going through.

On 36 minutes Van Persie opened the scoring with his first goal of the tournament. The Arsenal man exchanged passes with Van der Vaart before finishing through Jamidou Souleymanou’s legs.

Cameroon kept pressing, driven on by Eto’o who was desperate to sign off from what could be his last World Cup on a positive note. He had his chance from the spot in the 65th and took it shooting past Maarten Stekelenburg after Van der Vaart had used an arm in the area.

Robben came on for the last 17 minutes having missed the opening two games with a hamstring injury, cracking a post on 83 minutes and from the rebound Huntelaar put the Dutch back into the lead for good for the final 2-1 scoreline.

“It felt very good. I am not 100 percent yet but happy to have played,” said Robben.

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