Japan booked their place in the last 16 of the World Cup after outstanding first-half free-kicks from Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo sent them on their way to a 3-1 victory over Denmark in Rustenburg.

Needing only a draw to qualify from Group E, the Asians took the lead in the 17th minute when CSKA Moscow midfielder Honda bent in his set piece from 30 yards on the right. Although not as spectacular, Endo's 20-yard effort followed on the half-hour mark when the outstretched Thomas Sorensen was beaten for the second time.

Jon Dahl Tomasson saw his penalty saved nine minutes from the end, but bundled in the rebound to give his side a glimmer of hope, only for Shinji Okazaki to seal Japan's triumph and book a second round tie against Paraguay.

Denmark had the first real chance inside five minutes, but Tomasson found himself in the wrong position as he tried to deal with a deflected Simon Poulsen cross and the chance went begging.

Yoshito Okubo then sent in a low cross from the left that was flicked on nicely by Daisuke Matsui 10 yards out, only for Sorensen to intervene outstandingly with his feet. Moments later Makoto Hasebe latched on to a defence-splitting pass but wastefully shot over.

The deadlock was broken the next time Japan went up-field thanks to Honda's stunning free-kick, his second strike so far at the finals. It came after Matsui was fouled 30 yards from goal on the right and a curling and dipping shot was sent over the wall into the far corner beyond an outstretched Sorensen.

Tomasson had failed to connect cleanly with a Christian Poulsen through ball before Endo made it 2-0 when he bent his free-kick around the wall into the right corner.

Sorensen prevented his side falling further behind before half-time when he tipped over Yuichi Komano's effort from the right, but the Stoke City goalkeeper was saved from embarrassment by his right-hand upright less than three minutes after the restart when he spilt a routine catch from another Endo free-kick.

Denmark piled on the pressure, only for Soren Larsen to rattle the crossbar, while Tomasson was continually dogged by poor finishing. When Daniel Agger received a push in the back to win a penalty 10 minutes from time, it was perhaps fitting that the veteran striker's spot kick was saved by Kawashime before he sliced home the rebound.

The goal gave Denmark hope, but substitute Okazaki killed their spirit in the 87th minute when Honda teed him up to send Japan through.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Stoke City
Football
Premier League
Daniel Agger
Thomas Sorensen