Matchday 4 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ proved little different to the first three days of the competition. Goals were at a premium and the day’s two victors, the Netherlands and Japan, kept clean sheets to maintain the precedent set by all the other sides to pick up three points so far. In the night game, meanwhile, Italy and Paraguay had to be content with a share of the spoils.
There were clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures awaiting the Netherlands and Denmark as they got the ball rolling in Group E at Johannesburg’s Soccer City. The Dutch went ahead just after half-time when Daniel Agger put through his own net, with a late Dirk Kuyt tap-in sealing a 2-0 victory for Bert van Marwijk’s side. Agger’s accidental finish was the first goal the Oranje had scored in the world finals in 289 minutes and helped them take an early lead in the section.
In the second act in the day’s triple bill Japan picked up where Asian rivals Korea Republic left off on Saturday, beating a disappointing Cameroon side 1-0, their first FIFA World Cup finals victory away from home. Keisuke Honda’s close-range finish proved the difference between the sides and left the Indomitable Lions fruitlessly chasing an equaliser. They did come close, however, with the bar keeping out Stephane Mbia’s thunderous drive and Eiji Kawashima pulling off a superb reflex save to keep the Samurai Blue's goal intact.
In a chilly and rainswept end to the day in Cape Town, Paraguay and Italy cancelled each other out as the action began in Group F. Antolin Alcaraz headed the South Americans in front before the break, with Daniele De Rossi poking home an equaliser in the second half. New Zealand take on Slovakia in the second game in the section tomorrow.
Read all about these games by clicking on the links in the column on the right.
Goal of the day
Netherlands 1-0 Denmark, Daniel Agger og 46: Probing down the left flank at the start of the second half, the Dutch were gifted their opening goal of the afternoon when Simon Poulsen’s mistimed header glanced off team-mate Agger’s back and into the net. The first own goal of the tournament, the Danish defender’s involuntary strike was also the 60th goal the Oranje have scored in the world finals.
One to remember
The Paraguay squad were reluctant to venture out of the tunnel for their warm-up session in Cape Town, and not without good reason. A heavy rain and hail storm forced La Albirroja squad to seek shelter prior to the game, though the elements eventually relented, to the relief of everyone, not least the players.
Quote of the day
“We played a good game although we were a bit lucky with the goal that eventually settled the game. We’re looking good and we’re now just six games away from making history,” Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Netherlands captain, after collecting his 100th cap with the Oranje.
Stat of the day
8 - The number of years that have gone by since Japan’s last FIFA World Cup finals win: a 2-0 defeat of Tunisia on 14 June 2002.
Voice of the fans
“Asian football appears to be taking off at last. Japan need to be watchful against the Netherlands and then try to book their ticket against the Danes. There are some stars missing from the side but it was still a great win today. Well done the Samurais,” walomuro (Mexico), FIFA.com user.
Playing the game
fattia78 has finally brushed aside the pack and stepped into first place in Castrol's FIFA World Cup Predictor. The American is now on an 11-game prediction streak and hasn't put a foot wrong thus far.
In the McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy, Paraguayan defender Antolin Alcaraz and Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda are the only two players from today’s matches that take a temporary place in the Round 1 Dream Team. Los Guapos are the new No1 fantasy team with an army of challengers trailing closely behind.