England enjoyed a triumphant home send-off to the World Cup when an unfamiliar team packed with reserves outmuscled a skilful Mexico side 3-1 in their last home friendly at Wembley on Monday.
Manager Fabio Capello may have learned little that he didn’t know before a contest in which England recovered from a ragged first half showing to ensure win.
But for the Italian, it was a night to ink over a few pencilled ticks against certain names and etch a line across others as he finalises the decisions that will cut his 30-man squad to 23 for the finals in South Africa. “I wasn’t too concerned. It was very important to know where we are now – physically and mentally – and I think when we play on the counter, we look really dangerous. But we can’t just play on the counterattack.”
Goals from defender Ledley King, with a well-placed header, and striker Peter Crouch, with what appeared to be his right arm, put England 2-0 ahead before striker Guillermo Franco pulled one back from close range three minutes into first half added time. England goalkeeper Robert Green made two outstanding saves and saw another Mexican shot hit a post before the interval as England struggled to survive against spells of good possession and sharp attacks from the visitors. “The manager told us what he thought at halftime – we had to be a lot more aggressive and get in their faces,” said Steven Gerrard.
Argentina thrash Canada
In Buenos Aires, Maxi Rodriguez scored two goals and Argentina defeated Canada 5-0 on Monday in the Gauchos’ final tuneup before their World Cup opener on June 12. Argentina’s farewell match was played with FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi on the bench as coach Diego Maradona decided to rest the Barcelona playmaker.
Midfielder Javier Pastore started up front with Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. Rodriguez scored in the 16th and 32nd minutes and Angel Di Maria added another in the 37th. Tevez scored in the 63rd and Sergio Aguero added his in 71st, seconds after coming on as a substitute.