Day 4 World Cup action round-up – The Netherlands and Japan victorious while Italy rescue point after sluggish start

Day four of the World Cup saw Group E get under way with the Netherlands running out comfortable 2-0 winners over Denmark while Japan caused an upset of some sort, defeating Cameroon 1-0. Italy began their defence in rather unconvincing style with a 1-1 draw with Paraguay, Daniel De Rossi rescuing a vital point for the Azzurri.

HOLLAND 2
Agger (og) 46, Kuyt 85

DENMARK 0

An unfortunate defensive blunder from Danish left-back Simon Poulsen set the Dutch on their way to a comfortable opening 2-0 victory over Denmark. Arjen Robben was ruled out with a hamstring injury sustained during World Cup preparation and his absence was felt as the Netherlands looked narrow in attack and struggled to find the space to create chances.

Toiling to find the breakthrough, Holland were handed the lead just a minute into the second half when left-back Poulsen attempted to clear a Robin van Persie cross but directed the ball past Thomas Sorensen via a Daniel Agger deflection and into his own net.

This seemed to take the stuffing out of the Danes, who struggled in their attempt to find an equaliser. With five minutes left, the Netherlands wrapped up the points when Dirk Kuyt was presented with the easiest of tap-ins after substitute Eljero Elia had got in behind the Danish defence and hit the post with his effort.

Although far from a spectacular display, three points and a clean sheet will have satisfied the Netherlands who look sure to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.

JAPAN 1
Honda 38

CAMEROON 0

Japan produced a tactical master class to capture three points with a narrow 1-0 win over African nation Cameroon in the opening clash in Group E.

Despite lining up positively, Cameroon failed to gain the upper hand and the opening 30 minutes passed by with little action of any note with Japan happy to contain their opponents.

In the 38th minute, Japan took a shock lead when Keisuke Honda coolly slotted home from a tight angle after being picked out at the back post by Dalsuke Matsui.

After the half time break Japan continued to absorb pressure, restricting Cameroon to just the odd effort on target. Samuel Eto’o was ineffective throughout from his role on the right wing, a controversial decision by head coach Paul Le Guen that appeared to backfire.

Stephen Mbia came closest to an equaliser for Cameroon when letting fly from 25 yards out only to see his effort cannon off the cross bar. Japan held firm in the closing stages to gain an historic win for the nation, while defeat for Cameroon means they more than likely need to defeat both the Netherlands and Denmark to progress any further in the competition.

ITALY 1
De Rossi 63

PARAGUAY 1
Alcarez 38

A much improved second-half performance from defending champions Italy helped them rescue a 1-1 draw in their opening Group F game against Paraguay in Cape Town.

Italy struggled to find their rhythm in the first half as Paraguay were keen to prevent the game from becoming stretched early on. Their patience was rewarded when they took the lead after 38 minutes, centre back Antolin Alcaraz leaping above a hesitant Italian defence to head past Gianluigi Buffon to put the South Americans ahead.

The score line produced an immediate change in tactics from Italian coach Marcello Lippi after the break, reverting to a more familiar 4-4-2 with Vincenzo Iaquinta joining Alberto Gilardino up front.

Italy immediately looked more threatening and levelled in the 63rd minute when Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar attempted to punch clear an in swinging corner but failed to do so, allowing Daniel De Rossi to convert from just a few yards out.

Although Italy continued to press for a winner in the closing stages, Paraguay were eager to consolidate and did so with a certain level of comfort, claiming what could prove to be a valuable point for La Albirroja.

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