England, Argentina Win World Cup Tune-ups; Portugal Held 0-0 by Cape Verde

England, Australia and South Korea beat fellow qualifiers in World Cup tune-ups as Argentina routed Canada and tournament host South Africa and Portugal both drew.

Ledley King, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson scored in England’s 3-1 win over Mexico at London’s Wembley stadium last night as coach Fabio Capello experimented with his selection ahead of the June 1 deadline for naming 23-man squads. The four- yearly soccer tournament starts June 11.

“We need to be able to adapt to different formations during a game and also for different opposition, that’s down to the manager and what he decides to go with,” England midfielder Steven Gerrard told ITV. “We can play better than we did tonight. There’s still time to sharpen up.”

Mexico, which plays South Africa in the opening game of the World Cup on June 11 in Johannesburg, had 23 shots to eight by the home team and dominated possession in the first half. The visitor’s only goal came from Guillermo Franco.

England has another tune-up against Japan on May 30 in Graz, Austria, before taking on the U.S. on June 12 in its World Cup opener in Rustenburg.

In Buenos Aires, two-time world champion Argentina maintained its perfect record in exhibition matches this year in its last game before facing Nigeria at the World Cup on June 12.

Maxi Rodriguez scored twice to put Argentina 2-0 up and help Diego Maradona to his biggest win since taking over as coach in November 2008. Angel Di Maria, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero got the other goals in the 5-0 victory.

‘No Friendly Matches’

“There are no friendly matches when you are wearing the Argentina shirt,” Maradona said in comments on the Argentine soccer association’s website. “Argentines should relax. We have a great team.”

Australia beat New Zealand 2-1 as Brett Holman got the winning goal for the home team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time. Park Ji-Sung and Park Chu-Young scored for South Korea in its 2-0 win over Japan in Saitama.

Valeri Bojinov’s 31st-minute goal for Bulgaria denied South Africa the victory in Johannesburg after Thanduyise Khuboni had given the World Cup host the lead 11 minutes earlier. South Africa plays Colombia and Denmark in its final tune-ups before the World Cup starts.

Portugal, ranked third by world governing body FIFA, was held to a scoreless draw at home by the 117th-ranked Cape Verde Islands in the mountain resort of Covilha.

The Portuguese, World Cup semifinalists four years ago, have two more tune-ups against Cameroon and Mozambique before starting World Cup group play against Ivory Coast on June 15.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

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