Argentina crush Canada


BUENOS AIRES, May 25 – Two-time World Cup winners Argentina eased to a 5-0 victory over Canada here on Monday for a morale-boosting win ahead of flying to South Africa on Friday for the World Cup finals, which run from June 11-July 11.Even without the side’s superstar Lionel Messi, who was rested and sat watching from the stands, the Argentinians had little trouble from one of the game’s minnows as they cruised to a fifth successive victory this year, albeit three have come against second tier opposition.

Nevertheless Argentina’s unpredictable coach Diego Maradona was delighted with the performance and the outcome in what was the largest victory recorded by his side since he assumed the post at the end of 2008.

"The most positive thing is that we have made people happy," said the 50-year-old, who became a national hero as he virtually singlehandedly inspired Argentina to the 1986 World Cup trophy.

"And also that we were eager to show what we were capable of and a lot more besides that."

Maradona, too, was delighted with the way that his idea of playing three up front, albeit with Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Hiugain playing in a more advanced role than Carlos Pastore, who stood in for Messi.

"This performance showed that Argentina can play with three strikers at the World Cup finals," said a confident Maradona.

Liverpool wing Maxi Rodriguez grabbed a double, scoring with a 16th minute freekick and then grabbing his second in the 32nd minute after being teed up by Tevez.

Benfica midfielder Angel Di Maria added a third with a stunning shot with the outside of his left foot in the 37th minute before Tevez deservedly got on the score sheet, after superb work by Higuain, who on three occasions was denied when one on one with the goalkeeper.

Maradona’s son-in-law Sergio Aguero rounded off the scoring with a fine individual effort 18 minutes from fulltime.

Argentina – who struggled through the qualifiers and whose squad is lacking several notable players including Inter Milan duo Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso – are in Group B at the World Cup finals along with 2002 semi-finalists South Korea, Euro 2004 champions Greece and African giants Nigeria.