Free-kick masters cane the Danes and fire Japanese


TWO stunning first-half free-kicks helped Japan became the second Asian team to reach the last 16 of the World Cup at the expense of a disappointing Denmark in Rustenburg.

Keisuke Honda smashed the first effort from all of 30 yards over the wall to give the Japanese a 17th minute lead before Yasuhito Endo doubled the advantage with a curling effort on the half hour.

Former Newcastle striker Jon Dahl Tomasson pulled a goal back for the Danes with nine minutes remaining before Honda teed up Shinji Okazaki put the seal on a famous win.

It meant Japan joined Asian rivals South Korea in the second round for only the second time in their history, where they will play Paraguay on Tuesday.

But yesterday, no free-kick has been scored at this World Cup but the Japanese netted two in the space of 13 minutes. Honda netted the first effort around the wall before Endo deceived the Danes with a brilliant curling strike on the half hour, which flew beyond the helpless Thomas Sorensen.

Tomasson could, and should have halved the deficit long before he did with nine minutes to go, but Japan ensured there was to be no dramatic late finish after Okazaki slotted home following Honda’s mazy run.