Japan stun Denmark
Posted: 25 June 2010 Time: 07:06
A stunning brace of free kicks from Keisuke Honda and Yaushito Endo gave Japan a richly deserved 3-1 victory over Denmark as they progressed to the knockout stages for the first time outside their home country.
They join South Korea in the last sixteen with Asia securing two places in the second round also for the first time outside of that continent.
The Samurai Blues landed their first knockout blow just after the quarter-hour. From 35 yards out on the right hand side of the pitch, Keisuke Honda fizzed the ball over the wall and impossibly beyond Sorensen. Though the keeper could be faulted for his footwork, it would be an injustice to take anything away from the CSKA star whose technique was reminiscent of the former Lyon midfielder Juninho Pernambucano.
When Japan won a free kick on the half-hour, everyone expected Honda to try and repeat the trick. However this is a real cohesive unit without stars and Asian Player of the Year Yaushito Endo stepped up and curled the ball beautifully into the net beyond a despairing Sorensen.
In the second half, Endo almost made it three goals from free-kicks. Sensing a Danish keeper devoid of confidence, he tested out the Stoke man who was leaden-footed and lazily tipped the ball onto the post.
The Danes received an undeserved lifeline when Hasebe pushed Agger over in the box. Tomasson stepped up to equal the Danish goalscoring record and was fortunate to score the rebound after Kawashima saved a poor spot kick.
Just as Denmark had a glimpse of hope, a moment of brilliance from Honda when he left Rommedahl for dead set up substitute Shinji Okazaki who tapped the ball into the empty net.