Maxi Rodríguez’s two first-half goals paced Argentina to a dominating 5-0 win over Canada in Buenos Aires on Monday in the country’s final tuneup before departing for the World Cup.
Ángel di María, Carlos Tévez and Sergio Agüero all scored for No. 7-ranked Argentina, who completely dissected Canada in all facets from start to finish.
And it all came with 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year and FC Barcelona midfielder Lionel Messi sitting on the bench after suffering a knock in training.
For the Canadian National Team, it was a historic night: Pat Onstad became Canada's all-time leader in caps for a goalkeeper with his 57th appearance. But that was about the only highlight for Stephen Hart's side.
Argentina put on a complete performance to the delight of 66,000 fans at Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires who were looking for a great sendoff. They dictated play from the opening whistle, putting on a textbook clinic of one-touch passing and penetrating runs.
That put 63rd-ranked Canada back on their heels, akin to the effect of a foosball table tilted high in one direction. The Canadians couldn’t get a sniff of the ball and, when they did, couldn’t keep it long enough to do anything as they were swarmed by Argentines.
They struck first in the 16th minute, following a foul by Houston Dynamo defender Andrew Hainault. Rodríguez’s ensuing free kick from the edge of the penalty area took a slight deflection off the head of Toronto FC midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and sailed by Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Onstad.
Rodríguez then doubled the score in the 32nd minute against the run of play when he raced down the field took a pass from Tévez and slotted the ball between Onstad’s legs.
Five minutes later, Benfica star di María compounded Canada’s misery as he took control of a loose ball, drove toward the penalty area and sent a nifty left-footed drive over a helpless Onstad.
A Hainault turnover in the 63rd minute led to the fourth goal as Gonzalo Higuaín stole it at the top of the box and fed it to Tévez for an easy finish.
Canada’s lone scoring chance came a minute later when striker Rob Friend was stopped. Hart’s side was missing some key players in midfielders Julian de Guzman, Atiba Hutchinson and Patrice Bernier, but their presence wouldn’t have helped.
The difference in class was clear and highlighted by the talent at Argentina’s disposal. That was on display when Agüero ended the scoring in the 71st minute on an amazing goal just a minute after entering the game as a substitute.
Maradona’s son-in-law turned Canadian defender Richard Hastings inside out before sending a left-footed drive by Onstad.
The game marked the first time since 2008 that Canada last played a top 10-ranked country. Back then, Hart’s side played Brazil tough in a friendly in Seattle, falling 3-2 at Qwest Field.
Canada continue their South America tour with a trip to Mérida, Venezuela, on Saturday to face No. 49-ranked Venezuela.
Before Monday’s game, the Canadian Soccer Association announced that Peru would be Canada’s opponent for a Sept. 4 friendly at BMO Field in Toronto.
It would mark the first time Canada has faced the South Americans and the fourth friendly of six this year as the team prepares for next year’s Gold Cup.