Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Group E's second set of games

Netherlands 1-0 Japan

The Netherlands ultimately had a straight forward win but they were made to work hard for it. We still haven't seen the vintage Dutch they are capable of but perhaps they are saving that for later in the competition. The first half was largely forgettable, the odd chance for either side went begging. Early in the second half, a few minutes after van Persie missed a beautifully crafted chance, Sneijder pounced on a loose ball and smashed a ferocious shot from 20+ yards - Narazaki got a fair bit on his attempted save but it wasn't enough, instead diverting its path slightly and hitting the empty net. Perhaps he should have done better but few could surely blame him for a shot that was just too hot to handle. Second half sub for Holland, Afellay, impressed - although he had two wonderful opportunities to increase the lead at the death, but was denied. Japan had played their part in the game but had not really created enough to possess a sustained challenge.

Denmark 2-1 Cameroon

This was perhaps the most open game of the tournament. It was end-to-end stuff with plenty of chances to both sides, helped by the often appalling defending. Cameroon had thankfully got their personnel and tactics right this time. Alex Song was back in the starting eleven and Eto'o was given a more central role. This paid dividends when Cameroon opened the scoring early. Poulsen (who had been guilty of the own goal against Japan) played a slack pass that enabled Webo to nip in and feed Eto'o for a nice finish. For Cameroon Eto'o and Emana had top games and Webo was good value except for his woeful shooting.

Denmark's first goal was a gorgeous move. Kjaer played an inch perfect downfield diagonal pass to Rommedahl on the right wing who squared it perfectly into the path of Bendtner to finish. The second goal Bendtner set up Rommedahl for a superb finish. Tomasson was disappointing as he was unable to find the back of the net, criminally wasting some excellent opportunities - and thereby failing to equal Poul Nielsen's 85 year record of 52 goals for Denmark.

Both sides were creative, had chances, missed sitters, had good interplay, scored nice goals in an intriguing match that could have gone either way.

Unluckily for Cameroon it resulted in elimination from the tournament.

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