Argentina thumps Canada in World Cup tuneup
As far as bon voyage parties go, Argentina couldn't have had a better time.
For Canada, it was a Victoria Day to forget.
The South American powerhouse rolled to an easy 5-0 victory over Canada in an international friendly Monday, the final tuneup game for La Albiceleste before competing in next month's World Cup in South Africa.
The match at Buenos Aires' El Monumental Stadium, the site of the 1978 World Cup final, marked the first-ever meeting between Argentina, currently No. 7 in the FIFA world rankings, and Canada (No. 63).
It also provided Argentina coach Diego Maradona one final chance to evaluate his players and experiment before leaving for South Africa where he will try to lead his country to its third World Cup title.
Maradona made the most of the opportunity, as he fielded a full-strength side against the Canadians, minus Lionel Messi. The reigning FIFA world player of the year was slated to start against Canada, but ended up watching from the bench in a precautionary move by Argentina — Messi suffered a minor injury in training on the weekend.
Canada was missing seven players through injury, including Toronto FC midfielder Julian de Guzman, who did not make the trip due to a hamstring problem.
Argentina dominated proceedings right from the opening kickoff, pinging the ball around the midfield with some slick passing, making the Canadians chase in vain.
Canada did well to repel Maradona's men, but Argentina finally broke the resistance in the 16th minute when Maxi Rodriquez whipped a vicious free kick from the edge of the penalty area past goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
Rodriguez was at it again 16 minutes later, taking a pass from teammate Carlos Tevez on a breakaway before slipping the ball through the legs of Onstad.
Benfica playmaker compounded Canada's misery, firing a wicked shot from 23 yards out past Onstad with eight minutes left in the first half.
Argentina added a fourth in the 63rd minute. Gonzalo Higuain stripped Canadian defender Andre Hainault of the ball on the edge of the box, and then fed the ball across to Carlos Tevez, who scored on an easy tap-in.
Eight minutes later Sergio Aguero made it 5-0, just seconds after entering the game as a substitute. The Atletico Madrid star sped down the left wing and then turned a Canadian defender inside out before beating Onstad with a low shot from inside the box.
Argentina will compete in Group B at the World Cup, with its first match coming against Nigeria on June 12. The South American powerhouse will also play South Korea (June 17) and Greece (June 22).
Onstad set a new Canadian national team record for appearances by a goalkeeper. The veteran shot stopper made his 57th appearance on Monday, breaking the record he shared with Craig Forrest.
Next up for Canada is a May 29 friendly against Venezuela in Merida.
Canada will host Peru on Sept. 4 in Toronto and square off against Honduras on Sept. 7 in Montreal. Canada finishes off the year with a match in Ukraine on Oct. 8, the first time the two countries have met.