World Cup 2010 - Hero Honda makes Japan history

Eurosport - Mon, 14 Jun 16:54:00 2010

Japan recorded their first World Cup finals victory outside their own country as they defeated Cameroon 1-0 in Group E at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

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Keisuke Honda's 38th minute strike settled a quite dreadful encounter which was enlivened by one moment of quality.

A deep cross from the left from Daisuke Matsui went over the head of Nicolas Nkoulou and Stephane Mbia was sucked in on the cover, allowing the CSKA Moscow midfielder to bring the ball down crisply and tuck home a neat finish.

Mbia almost equalised when he struck the crossbar late on but Takeshi Okada's side held on to give them hope of matching their performance in 2002, when they reached the last 16 on home soil.

To underline the paucity of attacking football on display, Japan had only three shots in their win, the fewest by a winning side in the World Cup finals since 1966.

And it took 37 minutes for the first attempt on goal as Eric Choupo-Moting layed off a throw into the path of Enoh Eyong whose shot was comfortably saved, low by Eiji Kawashima.

Cameroon captain and talisman Samuel Eto'o was a peripheral figure, employed out on the right by coach Paul Le Guen, but he did produce one moment of quality after the break.

The Inter forward, with 42 goals in 92 appearances for his country, held off Yoshito Okubo and cut inside Yuki Abe before pulling the ball back to Choupo-Moting who looked to steer it into the top corner but his effort drifted wide of the far post.

A good cross on the run from Mbia followed but Pierre Webo, operating as the lone centre forward, was unable to direct his header on target before the Olympique Marseille full-back almost made amends for his positional error for the goal only to see a piledriver cannon back off the woodwork.

Japan, superbly marshalled by central defenders Yuji Nakazawa and Tulio Tanaka, held on to hand the Indomitable Lions' a first ever defeat in an opening match at a World Cup.

Match Facts

Japan v Cameroon

Goals 1-0

1st Half Goals 1-0

Shots on Target 2-2

Shots off Target 1-4

Blocked Shots 0-3

Corners 0-3

Fouls 20-29

Offsides 4-2

Yellow Cards 1-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 71.7%-75.3%

Tackles 22-19

Tackles Success 68.2%-78.9%

Possession 43%-57%

Territorial Advantage 46.7%-53.3%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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