Johnson's wonder strike lifts England

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STANDING TALL:England's Peter Crouch heads the ball in during the international friendly match against Mexico at the Wembley Stadium.
STANDING TALL:England's Peter Crouch heads the ball in during the international friendly match against Mexico at the Wembley Stadium.

Maxi Rodriguez scores a brace in Argentina's easy win

LONDON: A spectacular solo strike from Glen Johnson lit up an otherwise workmanlike performance from England as Fabio Capello's side notched up a 3-1 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Mexico at Wembley on Monday.

Ledley King marked his first appearance in an England shirt since 2007 with the opening goal and Peter Crouch made it 21 goals in 38 internationals as England recovered from a shaky start to claim control of its final home friendly before it heads for South Africa.

The West Ham striker, Guillermo Franco, responded for Mexico on the stroke of half-time but Johnson's lovely, left-footed effort, just after the interval, ensured the encounter finished with a scoreline that was morale-boosting if a little flattering for the host.

Capello admitted Mexico had given his side problems but was happy with the evening's workout.

“I'm happy with the result,” he said.

Morale-boosting win

At Buenos Aires, two-time World Cup winner 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.

Even without the side's superstar Lionel Messi, who was 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.

Liverpool wing Maxi Rodriguez grabbed a double, scoring with a 16th minute freekick and then scoring 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.

Setback for Portugal

At Covilha, Portugal suffered a blow as it was held to a 0-0 draw by minnows Cape Verde, ranked 117th in the world, in a friendly.

Portugal's star player Cristiano Ronaldo was a peripheral figure for the first hour of the match, leaving the creative play to Nani and Fabio Coentrao.

However, their creativity was wasted as Liedson missed with two headers in the 17th and 26th minutes and Nani also was guilty of missing a golden opportunity when set up by a delightful backheel by Deco.

At Soweto: Africa 1 (Sangweni 20) drew with Bulgaria 1 (Bojinov 31).

At Covilha: Portugal 0 drew with Cape Verde 0.

At Buenos Aires: Argentina 5 (M. Rodriguez 16, 32, Di Maria 37, Tevez 64, Aguero 72) bt Canada 0.

At London: England 3 (King 17, Crouch 34, G. Johnson 47) bt Mexico 1 (G. Franco 45+3) .

No Torres at training

European champion Spain trained without star striker Fernando Torres in its first group training session on Monday as it prepares for the World Cup finals.

Torres trained on his own as he continues his recovery from undergoing a second operation in three months to repair damage in his right knee on April 18.

All his fellow squad members including Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas — who has fully recovered from the broken tibia he sustained at the end of March — trained for over an hour.

Oscar Luis Celada, one of the squad's medical team, said he was optimistic that Torres would be fit for the opening Group H match against Switzerland on June 16 in Durban.

Traesch ruled out

Midfielder Christian Traesch was on Tuesday ruled out of next month's World Cup with an ankle injury and joins Michael Ballack on the casualty list, the German Football Federation (DFB) confirmed.

“Christian will not be available for us at the World Cup,” said assistant coach Hans-Dieter Flick at Germany's pre-World Cup training camp in north Italy.

“We all deeply regret this because Christian had proved himself in training and would have been in the final World Cup squad.”

The 22-year-old Traesch twisted his right ankle on Monday night just eight minutes into Germany's 4-0 win over Italian third division side FC Tyrol in a warm-up match at its north Italian training camp. — Agencies

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