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Shooting the Breeze: World Cup 2010 Day 14 - Group E Final Games

Japan hit top gear to qualify for the second round of the World Cup in style by 3-1 over a Denmark side that looked out of sorts and ponderous while the Netherlands secured top spot in the group with an assured 2-1 win over Cameroon.

After a slow start, Japan soon went into the lead, testing Thomas Sorensen in the Denmark goal but they soon had to contend with the overly officious South African referee who booked two Japanese players for timewasting very early on.

Keisuke Honda opened the scoring for Japan with a great 17th minute free kick from a full 30 yards out which curled to the right before faded in mid air again to the left, completely wrong-footing the luckless Sorensen.

There was more to come after 29 minutes when Per Kroldrup tripped Yoshito Okubo 25 yards out. Everyone expected Honda to try his luck again but this time it was the right boot of Yasuhito Endo which scored the second Japanese goal with a free kick which was highly reminiscent of a David Beckham special from his Manchester United heyday.

Denmark were looking completely out of sorts, nothing like the side that started their World Cup qualifying so strongly two years before but they went through the entire qualifying campaign without a single goal for veteran striker Jon Dahl Tomasson and he was having no luck in this game either as Soren Larsen hit the bar with 10 minutes to go.

Needing just one goal to equal the all-time Danish goalscoring record Tomasson had already wasted chance after chance and only when Daniel Agger made the most of a push from behind in the Japanese area in the 80th minute did Tomasson get a go. The entire Danish team were willing Tomasson to equal their goalscoring record and while his penalty was parried to the ground in front of Eiji Kawashima in the Japan goal Tomasson reacted first and planted the rebound past the frustrated Japanese 'keeper.

Pulling a goal back should have reinvigorated the Danes but they could not make their momentum count and finally had the wind blown from their sails when Keisuke Honda made a run from midfield, won the ball and drove to the edge of the penalty area with Danish players in tow before unselfishly squaring for Shinji Okazaki to finish while completely unmarked.

3-1 was fair winning margin that reflected Japan's endeavours and there was little from the other match that would change anything about the Japan vs Denmark game.

With both games going as expected, news of the Netherlands' 2-1 win over Cameroon meant little changed about the overall final group table. Robin van Persie put the Dutch ahead only for Samuel E'too to equalise from the spot before substitute Klas Jan Huntelaar restored the winning lead.

Once again, the Japanese showed that good organisation and unselfish team play has a place in this tournament and you have to wish them well in their knockout games going forward.


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