Denmark beats Cameroon 2-1 in World Cup
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP)
Dennis Rommedahl scored one goal and set up another to lead Denmark to a 2-1 comeback win over Cameroon on Saturday, eliminating the African team from the World Cup and sending the Netherlands to the round of 16.
Cameroon went ahead in the 10th minute when Samuel Eto'o took advantage of mixup in the Danish defense, but Denmark equalized in the 33rd when Rommedahl crossed from the right for Nicklas Bendtner to tap in.
Rommedahl scored the winner in the 61st. Picking up a pass from Jesper Gronkjaer, he spun around substitute Jean Makoun before hooking a well-aimed left-foot shot past Hamidou Souleymanou.
"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."
The result means the Netherlands became the first team through to the second round. The Dutch have six points after beating Japan 1-0 earlier Saturday. Denmark and Japan have three points each, and will clash on Thursday to decide who joins the Netherlands into the knockout stage. Denmark will need a win, as a draw would send Japan through with a better goal difference.
Cameroon became the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup after its second loss in the group stage left a second-round berth out of reach.
"It is doubtless a serious disappointment for us and Cameroonian nation as a whole," Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen said, but added he won't resign.
The team "will play for the honor of the country" in the final match against the Netherlands, he said.
Denmark, which scored an own-goal in its 2-0 loss to the Netherlands, got off to a disastrous start. Christian Poulsen rolled a pass toward fullback Simon Kjaer but it was way too soft and intercepted by Achille Webo, who found Eto'o unmarked in front of goal. Cameroon's top striker easily beat Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen with a powerful low shot.
The Danes replied when Kjaer sent a long diagonal pass from deep inside the Danish half down the right flank to Rommedahl. The 31-year-old 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.
Cameroon had first-half chances to go back in front but Eto'o hit the post and Achille Emana zigzagged past three defenders but shot straight at Sorensen. Alex Song and Webo also shot over the bar at Loftus Versfeld.
Sorensen salvaged the Danish win when he stopped Achille Emana's right-foot shot with a one-handed save in the 77th.
Six minutes earlier, Jon Dahl Tomasson had a chance to increase the Danish lead, but Souleymanou pulled off an excellent save.
Cameroon fired 23 shots on goal while Denmark had 13 in the fast-paced match in Pretoria.
Denmark coach Morten Olsen was critical of his team despite the win.
"We had far too many elementary mistakes and we can't allow that," he said. "We must correct that ... if we are to progress in this tournament."
He hailed the performance as a "heroic physical effort" especially as the team has been plagued by injuries.
Olsen chose an offensive lineup. Bendtner spearheaded a 4-3-3 formation, with veterans Dahl Tomasson and Rommedahl on the wings.
Both Bendtner and Dahl Tomasson have been hampered by injuries, so selecting both was a gamble.
Le Guen made three changes from the previous match against Japan, with Alex Song, Geremi and Achille Emana starting.
Eto'o said the loss was the biggest disappointment of his career. Coming off consecutive Champions League titles with Barcelona and Inter Milan, had been hoping for a strong World Cup performance by Cameroon, which hasn't advanced from the group stage since reaching the quarterfinals in 1990.
"And when I say a good World Cup I mean to go as far as possible," Eto'o said.
"I gave everything I had."
Cameroon: Hamidou Souleymanou, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Nicolas Nkoulou, Sebastien Bassong (Mohamadou Idrissou, 72), Alex Song, Geremi, Samuel Eto'o, Achille Emana, Achille Webo (Vincent Aboubakar, 78), Eyong Enoh (Jean Makoun, 46), Stephane Mbia.
Denmark: Thomas Sorensen, Christian Poulsen, Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Lars Jacobsen, Jesper Gronkjaer (Thomas Kahlenberg, 61), Jon Dahl Tomasson (Jakob Poulsen, 86), Martin Jorgensen (Daniel Jensen, 46), Nicklas Bendtner, Simon Poulsen, Dennis Rommedahl.