World Cup 2010 - Japan eliminate Danes
Eurosport - Thu, 24 Jun 21:22:00 2010
Japan reached the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time on foreign soil as they beat Denmark 3-1 at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg.
First-half free-kicks from Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo put Japan, who only needed a point to reach the second round, on course.
Jon Dahl Tomasson pulled one back, nine minutes from time, as he tucked home the rebound after missing a penalty but Shinji Okazaki sealed victory for Japan after superb work from Honda.
Japan clinched second spot behind the Netherlands in Group E to book a date with Paraguay on Tuesday afternoon in Pretoria.
Honda, who scored Japan’s goal in their opening victory over Cameroon, broke the deadlock after 17 minutes with a stunning 35-yard effort.
A fierce strike swung into the far corner past Thomas Soresen whose initial move was to his left, the Stoke keeper then watching the ball fly past him to his right.
And 13 minutes later Endo matched his team-mate with a wonderful 20-yarder curler over the wall and this time Sorensen, diving full length to his left, had no chance.
Japan were vibrant throughout and were full value for their victory while Denmark were predictable and ponderous.
Sorensen was lucky that Daisuke Matsui's goalbound flick from seven yards hits his legs early on while Makoto Hasebe also came close before Japan did make the breakthrough.
Sorensen's erratic evening continued after the break as he let a seemingly harmless Endo free-kick slip through his hands and he was lucky to see the ball bounce back off the post.
Denmark's best chances had fallen to veteran Tomasson who curled a decent early effort narrowly past the far post but had also failed to make any contact on three other presentable opportunities, none more clean cut than when Dennis Rommedahl had picked him out in space 20 minutes from time.
Morten Olsen threw on forward players as his side needed three goals to maintain their record of surviving the group phase in all of their World Cup appearances and after one of his subs, Soren Larsen, had hit the bar, they were awarded a penalty.
Daniel Agger was pushed over by Hasebe and referee Jerome Damon has no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Tomasson's penalty was saved by Kawashima, diving to his right, but the veteran managed to squirt the follow-up into the corner to become Denmark's all-time record scorer.
But Japan were by far the better side and they made the points safe three minutes from time as sub Okazaki tapped into an empty net after the impressive Honda beat Rommedahl with a sublime drag back before squaring to the sub.