Japan romp into last 16

08:11, June 25, 2010      

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Japan's palyers celebrate their victory as Denmark's Daniel Agger (1st L) passes by at the end of the Group E last round match at 2010 FIFA World Cup, at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 24, 2010. Japan won 3-1 and qualifies for the next round. (Xinhua/Xu Suhui)

Japan joined fellow Asians South Korea in last 16 after thumping Denmark 3-1 in their last Group E game on Thursday.

Bending like set piece master David Beckham, Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo scored on two free kicks to put Japan in control in first half.

"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."

Japan will play Paraguay in the round of 16.

"Prior to the match, the coach said we shouldn't concentrate on the defense and that we should attack," Honda said. "That's what the coach told the players to boost our motivation. It was really effective and led to this wonderful result."

Denmark, who had never failed to reach the second round in their World Cup appearances, fought end to end with Japan before Honda opened the Japanese account in the 17th minute.

A free-kick by the CSKA Moscow midfielder about 30 meters from the goal flew over the defense line of the Danish Dynamite and slipped away from the fingertips of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.

At half an hour, with Sorensen expecting Honda to take a set piece, Endo stunned him by curling the ball around the wall and insdie the post to make it 2-0.

Honda and Endo are Japan's secret weapons when it counts. Endo was crowned as the Asian Player of the Year in 2009 while Honda is an expert in long distance free-kick.

Moments after the restart, Japan came close to making it 3-0 as Endo sent a looping but tame free-kick to goal but Sorensen fumbled it over his head and the ball smacked off the post.

Denmark had wasted countless chances, including the gilt one in the 72nd minute when Dennis Rommedahl found himself in space inside the area and slid the ball back into the path of Jon Dahl Tomasson, who fumbled his shot from seven meters.

Two minutes after Danish striker Soren Larsen rattled the crossbar, Tomasson finally scored for Denmark, following the penalty kick which was awarded for a push on Daniel Agger.

The spot kick was blocked but Tomasson hit the rebound into the corner.

Japan killed the game in the 87th minute as Honda set up Shinji Okazaki, who calmly tapped the ball into an empty net.

Japan garnered six points to finish second in the group, which was won by the Netherlands who made it three out of three. Denmark were sent packing with three points with winless Cameroon in bottom.


Special Report: World Cup 2010

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