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Netherlands beats Japan, advances in WCup


Netherlands beats Japan, advances in WCup

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Netherlands became the first team to qualify for the second round of the World Cup, beating Japan 1-0 Saturday and then watching Denmark defeat Cameroon 2-1.
The Indomitable Lions became the first country eliminated.
Two-time World Cup finalist Netherlands, which became the first European team to earn six points from its first two games at this year’s tournament, dictated play. Still, the Dutch did not display the kind of fluid soccer fans have been expecting.
Wesley Sneijder scored in the 53rd minute as the Dutch finally broke down a stubborn Japanese defense in Durban.
“Why do we focus on good soccer instead of winning?” Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said. “Let me assure you that we really, really want to win and if we can do that in style, then great. But you have to be able to win ugly games.”
In Pretoria, Denmark got goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Dennis Rommedahl to beat Cameroon. In between those two matches, 10-man Australia held on to earn a point in a 1-1 draw against Ghana.
Japan’s stifling defense worked well for most of the match with the Dutch. But Robin van Persie dropped a ball back to Sneijder, who sent a powerful shot past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
“We pressed in the second half and got a goal,” Sneijder said. “This is the kind of game we maybe could have got two or three goals, but we won it and that’s great.”
The Netherlands reached the World Cup final in 1974 and 1978, but lost both times.
Argentina, which is in Group B, is the only other team with six points from two matches, but the South Americans have yet to qualify for the next round.
Cameroon took the lead against the Danes when Samuel Eto’o scored in the 10th minute after a mix-up on defense.
But a superb long pass by Simon Kjaer was played down the right wing by Rommedahl. He found Bendtner rushing toward the goal in the 33rd, and the striker scored with his right foot. In the 61st minute, Rommedahl ran down the right and beat Jean Makoun before shooting past goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou.
“They didn’t take their chances and we did, and I think that was the key,” Bendtner said. “But in the World Cup, three points counts, and nothing else.”
For Cameroon, it was a huge letdown, and the game against the Netherlands on Thursday now is meaningless for the Indomitable Lions.
“It is doubtless a serious disappointment for us and the Cameroonian nation as a whole,” Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen said, adding he won’t resign. The team “will play for the honor of the country” against the Netherlands, he said.
Australia took the lead in Rustenburg when Brett Holman put back a rebound in the 11th minute, but the Socceroos then lost Harry Kewell to a red card in the 24th for a handball while blocking a shot at the goal line.
Asamoah Gyan converted from the penalty spot to earn the 1-1 draw. Gyan has two goals in the tournament, both on penalty kicks.
“I think it was definitely not a red card,” Australia coach Pim Verbeek said. “What can you do with your arm? You can’t cut it off.”
Ghana leads Group D with four points, followed by Germany and Serbia with three each. Australia is last with one point.
Ghana plays Germany and Serbia takes on Australia on Wednesday.
Also, France striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home from the World Cup for insulting coach Raymond Domenech at halftime of a 2-0 loss to Mexico on Thursday. The French Football Federation said Saturday that the Chelsea striker was thrown out for refusing to publicly apologize to Domenech.