Denmark eliminated Cameroon from the World Cup and sent the Netherlands through to the second round. Yet the Danes could find little to cherish in their 2-1 victory Saturday night in Pretoria, South Africa.
Dennis Rommedahl scored one goal and set up another as Denmark made the Indomitable Lions the first team knocked out of the tournament. In the process, the Dutch became the first nation to advance after they beat Japan, 1-0 in Group E, then waited a few hours for the evening result.
And while the result went Denmark’s way, it was hardly what the Danes had in mind.
“When we finished the game we knew it was a really bad game,” Daniel Agger said. “Especially the first half, we gave too many opportunities away. We didn’t play like a team. We didn’t play like we have to play if we want to progress in this competition. Clearly it wasn’t good enough, but if you can win on days like that, it’s positive.”
Rommedahl charged down the right wing and spun around Jean Makoun before hitting a well-aimed shot past goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou in the 61st minute.
Rommedahl had assisted on the equalizer after Samuel Eto’o put Cameroon ahead in the 10th minute following a mix-up in the Danish defense.
Nicklas Bendtner tied it in the 33rd after receiving a feed from Rommedahl following a superb long pass by Simon Kjaer.
“It was a tough game until the last minute,” Rommedahl said.
Netherlands 1, Japan 0: Wesley Sneijder scored the only goal as the Dutch advanced.
Sneijder’s 53rd-minute strike finally broke through a Japanese defense that had stifled Dutch creativity in front of 62,010 fans at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The Netherlands again failed to live up to its billing as one of the most fluid attacking teams of the tournament, though it won nevertheless.
The win set a record of 10 straight victories for the Netherlands in World Cup qualifiers and finals matches – a run that includes eight qualification matches and its two victories in South Africa.
It also extended the Dutch record of never losing to an Asian team. It has now won eight matches and tied one against Asian opponents.
Australia 1, Ghana 1: The Aussies held on for the draw despite Ghana’s man advantage for more than 66 minutes in Rustenburg.
Australia forward Brett Holman scored in the 11th minute after goalkeeper Richard Kingson bobbled a free kick from Mark Bresciano right into his path.
Harry Kewell was given a red card in the 24th minute after he blocked a shot at the goal line with his upper arm.
Asamoah Gyan converted the penalty kick in the 25th minute for his second goal of the tournament, both from the penalty spot.