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(Eduardo Di Baia)
(Eduardo Di Baia)

Canada routed in Argentina Add to ...

Call it a learning experience for Canadian soccer.

Maxi Rodriguez led a balanced attack with a pair of goals Monday as Argentina trounced Canada 5-0 in a soccer friendly.

The Argentines, ranked seventh in the world, had their way with an overmatched Canadian team that came in ranked 63rd. Angel Di Maria, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguerro added goals for Argentina, which earned the victory in front of 65,000 at El Monumental Stadium.

Injuries and club commitments forced Canada to field a mix of youth and experience, with the main goal to get some experience as a group against one of the top sides in the world.

The result: Canada's worst loss since dropping a 5-1 decision to Czech Republic in November 2003 in Teplice. Canada lost 8-0 to Mexico in July 1993 in Mexico City.

"Today, it was school," said Canadian coach Stephen Hart.

El Monumental was a sea of noise an hour before kickoff. As the Canadian players came out for warm-ups, the host crowd whistled loudly and that was just a taste of what was to come.

Even though Canada may not have been a "prestige" friendly for the hosts, the fans reacted to every hard tackle, every close chance and showed how much passion there is in the country for the game.

"There is no friendly match when you are wearing the Argentine uniform," Argentina coach Diego Maradona said. "The guys showed we have a great team - and more. Argentines should relax, we have some tremendous players."

Argentina, playing its final game before next month's World Cup in South Africa, looked sound from the opening minute. The Argentines played without superstar Lionel Messi, but still had no trouble creating chances in its first-ever game against Canada.

"It's obviously something special for most of the players having probably seldom played in South America and in such a famous stadium and probably one of the favourite teams to win the World Cup so you know it's special for us," said Canadian captain Paul Stalteri.

Rodriguez played through into Canada's penalty area in the sixth minute, but Montreal's Andrew Hainault did well to get a foot in. Argentina's next wave of attack came just a minute later when Tevez swung in a cross from the right side, but Stalteri headed the ball out for a corner.

Argentina finally broke through in the 16th minute. Stalteri committed a foul on the right-hand side, just outside the box. Rodriguez's free kick was perfectly struck, finding its way into the net to the left of Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad.

Rodriguez added his second in the 32nd minute. With Argentina attacking quickly, Tevez ran onto a loose ball and fed Rodriguez, who was making a run from his right. The pass was played in stride to Rodriguez and his low shot got by Onstad.

A mesmerizing goal from Di Maria rounded off the first-half scoring. Di Maria picked up the ball about 25 yards from goal and let a shot go with the outside of his left foot that had both power and precision, hitting the top left corner.

"I thought the way we gave up the goals was kind of tough to swallow but I think it was a good lesson playing against one of the elite teams in the world," said Onstad, who earned his 57th cap for the national squad, the most by a goalkeeper.

Canada came out of the half-time break seeing a bit more possession but, in the 63rd minute, some poor marking allowed Di Maria to find a wide open Tevez for a simple tap-in from right in close.

Kelowna's Rob Friend had Canada's best chance not long after Argentina's fourth goal. A high cross from the left was met by Friend but Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero came out to stop the header.

Aguerro rounded out the scoring with another fantastic finish in the 71st minute. He beat defender Richard Hastings for pace on the left side before unleashing a shot across the goal that eluded Onstad.

"I don't think throughout the 90 minutes that they absolutely created too many chances on us," said Stalteri, "I think the chances came from our mistakes and I think that's what we need to tidy up to set ourselves up for qualifying."

Canada will play a second friendly on Saturday against Venezuela.

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