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World Cup 2010: Den-Mark, Den-Cross...Boys From J.League Play Ball and Den-Lost

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World Cup 2010: Den-Mark, Den-Cross...Boys From J.League Play Ball and Den-Lost

The impressive Keisuke Honda took his time sizing up a free kick from the right after 17 minutes. From at least 30 yards out, he scored a fantastic strike, which left Denmark's Thomas Sorensen without a clue.

The CSKA striker, one of the few Japanese players to play outside the J-League, unleashed a swerving, dipping free kick with great skill. Sorensen, who was impressive in Denmark's win against Cameroon, was hopelessly beaten.

Yasuhito Endo repeated the trick soon after for their second, but from a more central position, once more, with great skill and subtle swerve on the ball.

Endo had been trained by none other than the legendary Zico, who many consider the father of Japanese football. The subtlety and skill of his strike certainly carried the hallmark of Brazilian football.

On a pitch that will haunt England's Robert Green forever, Sorensen had a really uneasy evening. He was once again deceived by yet another Endo free kick, very reminiscent of Ronaldinho's humiliation of England's David Seaman in 2002.

Unlike Seaman, Sorensen was lucky enough to tip it onto the bar and save himself from a dead ball situation.

The Japanese impressed every time they swept forward. Their front three of Yoshito Okubo, Honda, and Makoto Hasebe buzzed around the static Danish defense.

Even with their lead cut to a single goal due to a dubious penalty awarded to Denmark, they continued to attack. They received another reward when Honda combined with Shinji Okazaki for the third goal in yet another beautiful play that carried the stamp of Brazilian football all over.

Honda dribbled into the area with great flare and touched to Okazaki, who finished in pure samba style, touching it in after a subtle body feint on the keeper.

Surely Zico, Dunga, and many other Brazilians who contributed to building up the J.League and Japanese football on the whole must have been proud to see the lads mow down their European opponents with such authority.

Football art has been exported throughout the world and at times even comes back to haunt the creators, as in the case of Ivory Coast, who had 17 of their 23 men trained by Brazilian Joao Carlos.

Indeed, the hero of the Ivory Coast match, Gervinho, who made a great run and precise pass to Didier Drogba, was actually named by Joao Carlos (as was Romaric) in honor of the legendary Romario.

The Danes, however, with their English league long passes and cross after cross after cross after cross, were very disappointing and very much outplayed on the night.

Premier League's Nicklas Bendtner was a non-factor and really never produced anything during the match, wasting many free kicks by kicking them all straight at the wall with power.

There was a flicker of hope for the Danes before Japan's third score. Soren Larsen hit the bar from long range, then Hasebe pushed Daniel Agger and the defender fell. Tomasson's penalty was easily saved, but the forward then slotted in the rebound as the Japanese backs were slow to react.

So yet another European side, one which sent Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal to the playoffs, goes home, and the Japanese progress into the Group of 16, consisting of the best football nations in the world.

 

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