Netherlands is first team to advance
DURBAN, South Africa – The Netherlands is showing it doesn’t have to be flashy to advance at the World Cup.
Wesley Sneijder scored in the 53rd minute Saturday, and the Netherlands beat Japan 1-0, its second straight win and the second time the Dutch couldn’t produce the kind of offensive show they were expected to bring to South Africa.
The Dutch will take it. Their victory combined with Denmark’s 2-1 win over Cameroon in Group E makes the Netherlands the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout phase of the tournament.
“Why do we focus on good soccer instead of winning?” Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said. “Let me assure you that we really want to win, and if we can do that in style, then great. But you have to be able to win ugly games.”
• Australia 1, Ghana 1 – In Rustenburg, Australia didn’t wilt after an early ejection of one of its veterans. The Socceroos held on for the draw despite Ghana’s man advantage for more than 66 minutes.
Australia forward Brett Holman scored in the 11th minute on a rebound after goalkeeper Richard Kingson bobbled a free kick from Mark Bresciano. But Harry Kewell was given a red card in the 24th minute after he blocked a shot from Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah at the goal line with his upper arm.
“It’s devastating for me,” Kewell said. “There was no intent. The referee has killed my World Cup.”
Asamoah Gyan converted the penalty kick in the 25th minute for his second goal of the tournament, both from the penalty spot.
Australia coach Pim Verbeek said Kewell shouldn’t have been sent off, calling it a hard shot that he couldn’t move his arm away from. “I think it was definitely not a red card,” he said. “What can you do with your armâ¢ You can’t cut it off.”
• Denmark 2, Cameroon 1: In Pretoria, Dennis Rommedahl scored one goal and set up another as Denmark eliminated Cameroon from the World Cup.
Rommedahl charged down the right wing and spun around Jean Makoun before hitting a well-aimed shot past goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou in the 61st minute.
Samuel Eto’o had put Cameroon ahead with his goal in the 10th minute. But Nicklas Bendtner tied it in the 33rd after receiving a feed from Rommedahl following a superb long pass by Simon Kjaer.
After England’s 0-0 tie against Algeria, The Daily Mail ran a picture of British star Wayne Rooney under the headline: “Raging Fool.”
Nicolas Anelka has been thrown off France’s World Cup team after getting into a heated exchange with coach Raymond Domenech and refusing to apologize. Anelka admitted he had a “heated conversation” but said he expected the issue to remain private.
Ever since France’s Thierry Henry’s unpunished hand ball denied Ireland a spot in the World Cup, Irish fans have cheered against the French. In Mexico’s 2-0 victory over France on Thursday, Irish fans wore sombreros and drank tequila shots in Dublin bars.