First, apologies to anyone who saw the starting XI I posted shortly before kick off, and accepted it as gospel. I was copying it from Cancha Llena (La Nación‘s sports website) and they got it completely wrong (it wasn’t the only thing – they’re now claiming that Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins, who sung the Canadian anthem before the match, is Canadian). Without, for some reason, fielding Lionel Messi for so much as a minute, Argentina easily beat a frankly not very good at all Canadian team to see themselves off to South Africa in style. Maxi Rodríguez got the first two, Ángel Di María the third, Carlos Tevez the fourth, and Sergio Agüero completed the rout seconds after coming off the bench. You can watch them all here.
Having looked at the starting eleven I posted before going to find a cafe to watch the game in, I didn’t have any commentary and thus spent the first half hour trying to work out where Messi was and why none of his team mates were trying to give him the ball. The cameras then cut away to a shot of him on the bench in a tracksuit. Presumably the coaching staff preferred not to risk him after the blow to the head he took in training a few days ago. I can’t think why else Diego Maradona wouldn’t want to give him all the playing time possible alongside his strike partners in preparation for the World Cup.
Anyway, Maxi got the party started early on with a free kick from a silly angle, and doubled his tally just over quarter of an hour later finishing a flowing move which saw him set up by Tevez. Seizing on an error in the Canadian defence, Di María made it 3-0 five minutes later with a brilliant finish. At half time Maxi was replaced by Seba Verón, and the pace slowed somewhat as a result.
Gonzalo Higuaín had a dreadful afternoon in front of goal but, after missing a couple of good chances, he kept his head to square the ball back for Tevez to make it four just after the hour mark. He was replaced by Martín Palermo a few minutes later, and shortly after that Tevez came off for Agüero, who immediately got onto the ball in the left channel, turned his marker inside out and smacked in a shot that was hit early enough to surprise the Canadian goalkeeper.
International friendly, 24th May 2010: Argentina 5 – 0 Canada
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Photo pinched from canchallena.com