World Cup: Japan vs. Denmark; Japan wins 3-1
Spectacular first-half goals by Keisuke Honda and Yusuhito Endo helped lift Japan to a 3-1 win over Denmark on Thursday, sending the Japanese into the round of 16 at the World Cup.
The Danes, who replied in the 81st minute when Jon Dahl Tomasson tapped in the rebound from his own penalty kick, failed to advance from the group stage for the first time in four World Cup appearances.
Shinji Okazaki scored an insurance goal in the 87th minute for the Japanese.
Japan's first two goals came from free kicks less than 15 minutes apart, as it collected its second win in Group E. The Japanese finished with six points compared with three for third-place Denmark. Cameroon was last in the group.
The Japanese have now reached the knockout round for the second time. They also advanced in 2002, when they were tournament co-hosts with South Korea.
Japan will face Paraguay in Pretoria on Tuesday in the second round.
Japanese players held hands and bowed like a chorus line before their joyous fans at the end of the game.
Honda got his second goal of the tournament in the 17th minute with a blistering kick from the right of the Danish area. The ball went over the wall and swerved beyond goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen's reach into the far corner.
“For Japan it's a big win,” Honda said. “I'm glad we won, but I am not satisfied. The next game is more important. I want to show the Japanese that nothing is impossible.”
Endo's free kick came from outside the penalty area directly in front of the Danish goal. He curled his shot around the wall. Despite leaping to his left, Sorensen couldn't get to it.
Denmark was awarded a penalty when Makoto Hasebe brought down Daniel Agger. Tomasson hit the ball at Eiji Kawashima, but the goalkeeper couldn't hold on and the Danish captain knocked in the loose ball.
Honda tormented the Danish defense with his tight dribbling before laying the ball to Okazaki, a substitute, who put away the final goal.
-- Associated Press