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Japan Humble Denmark And Move On
Japan's Yasuhito Endo (left) celebrates with his team mate Yuto Nagatomo after he scores their sides second goal
A fine showing by Japan saw them beat Denmark 3-1 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Thursday night. The win sees them into the next round and deservedly so after the nightís performance.
The first 45 minutes saw the Japanese side crisp and clinical in front of goal, especially at set-piece time and that is exactly how they grabbed the only two goals of the half.
A stunning brace of free kicks from Keisuke Honda and Yaushito Endo sent Japan into the half time break soaring and left the Danes reeling.
That, however, is not the way the match started as the European side started the more dominate of the two sides and showed themselves to be capable of keeping possession for long periods.
And what a different game it could have been had Jon Dahl Tomasson managed to strike the ball cleanly inside the 18-yard box in only the sixth minute of the match. A left wing cross deflected into the path of the veteran striker who was unmarked and with a clear shot on goal, but he only succeeded in fumbling his effort wide.
Soon after the tide quickly changed as the Japanese showed they could play some football of their own and went in front in the 17th minute from a well-struck Honda 30-yard free-kick.
Honda was able to bend a beautifully struck free-kick around the defensive wall and into the top right-hand corner of the net, 1-0. Thomas Sorensen could have made the save but his positioning was not the best and he was severely penalised for it.
Matters then got worse for the Danes as they went a second goal down in the 30th minute from yet another free-kick about 30-yards out from goal.
This time, with the Danes expecting Honda to try and repeat his feat from 13 minutes earlier, it was Endo who hit. But the result was the same as Endo surprised Sorenson by masterfully curling the ball around the wall and into the net, 2-0.
The remainder of the half saw Denmark dominating the possession stakes, but were unable to create any decent chances on goal.
With the Danes trailing by two goals and chasing the game the second half was always going to be frantic. The pattern of the game soon set in as Denmark pressed forward in their numbers and Japan looked to hit on the counter-attack.
However, despite the Danes mounting attack after attack they just couldnít seem to break down the resolute Japanese defence. Jakob Poulsen did come close to scoring his sideís opening goal when he struck the crossbar with a powerful 20-yard shot in the 79th minute.
Eventually the Danish side did catch a break when they were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute after Daniel Agger was pushed inside the 18-yard area.
The Danes nearly ruined that chance as well when Tomassonís initial penalty was saved, but the striker quickly followed up and buried the rebound into the back of the net, 2-1.
The Danes goal, however, was merely consolation as Japan concluded matters six minutes later when substitute Shinji Okazaki scored his sideís third goal and confirmed Japanís place in the last round of 16.
That is the way the match ended as Japan and Netherlands moved onto the next round from Group E.