Denmark hangs on to eliminate Cameroon
Netherlands clinches trip to round of 16
Denmark eliminated Cameroon from the FIFA World Cup and sent the Netherlands through to the second round. Yet the Danes could find little to cherish in their 2-1 victory in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday night.
Dennis Rommedahl scored one goal and set up another as Denmark made the Indomitable Lions the first team knocked out of the tournament. In the process, the Dutch became the first nation to advance after they beat Japan 1-0 in Group E, then waited a few hours for the evening result.
And while the result went Denmark's way, it was hardly what the Danes had in mind.
"When we finished the game we knew it was a really bad game," Daniel Agger said. "Especially the first half, we gave too many opportunities away. We didn't play like a team. We didn't play like we have to play if we want to progress in this competition. Clearly it wasn't good enough, but if you can win on days like that, it's positive."
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.
Rommedahl had assisted on the equalizer after Samuel Eto'o put Cameroon ahead in the 10th minute following a mix-up in the Danish defence.
Nicklas Bendtner tied it in the 33rd after receiving a feed from Rommedahl following a superb long pass by Simon Kjaer.
"It was a tough game until the last minute," Rommedahl said. "We had a terrible start. But we created a lot of chances in the second half, when it became a more open game."
Eto'o scored early after a meltdown in the Danish defence.
Christian Poulsen rolled the ball toward fullback Kjaer, but the pass was way too soft and intercepted by Achille Webo. He found Eto'o unguarded in front of the net. Cameroon's top striker easily beat goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen with a powerful low shot.
The Danes replied just after the half-hour mark. Kjaer sent a long diagonal pass from deep inside the Danish half down the right flank to Rommedahl. The winger let the ball bounce off his chest, looked up to find Bendtner rushing toward the goal, and struck a low cross that the Denmark striker poked in with his right foot.
Both teams had a flurry of chances before the break, with Eto'o hitting the post and Achille Emana zigzagging past three defenders but shooting straight at Sorensen.
Cameroon pressed for an equalizer, but Alex Song and Webo shot over the net, and Sorensen protected the Danish lead when he stopped Emana's right-footed shot with a one-hand save in the 77th.
"It is doubtless a serious disappointment for us and the Cameroonian nation as a whole," Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen said, adding he won't resign. The team "will play for the honour of the country" in the final match against the Netherlands, he said.