Scotland 1-1 Canada

Steven Naismith rescued Scotland with a left-foot finish after poor play from Canada

Steven Naismith scored the equaliser as Scotland laboured to a friendly draw with Canada at Easter Road.

Falkirk’s Fraser Aird produced a fine finish to send Canada ahead following poor defending from the hosts.

Untidy play at the other end allowed Naismith to level, the forward diverting Tom Cairney’s shot home.

Neither team created much after half-time but Canada, ranked 117 in the world, looked as likely to find a winner as the home side.

Scotland are currently second-bottom of Group F going into Sunday’s World Cup qualifying match against Slovenia at Hampden.

Fraser Aird scores

Stewart Regan, the Scottish FA chief executive, and national boss Gordon Strachan have said Sunday’s fixture is a “must-win” for the nation’s qualifying hopes.

Scotland continue to struggle

With a crucial qualifier just a few days away the Scotland fans who turned out on a miserable night in the capital would have been expecting a performance against Canada that would give them hope heading into the Slovenia match on Sunday.

But on this performance there was little for the hardy few to cheer about.

The centre-back pairing of Christophe Berra and Charlie Mulgrew were opened up ever so simply time after time in the first half. Up front Chris Martin struggled to hold on to the ball with a first touch as heavy as the Easter Road surface.

Steven Naismith scores

In former Scotland youth players Aird and Scott Arfield the visitors had the two best players on the pitch, with Toronto-born Falkirk winger Aird, whose parents are Scottish, scoring his first international goal.

He capitalised on some calamitous defending by Lee Wallace and had several chances to add to his tally.

Burnley’s Scottish-born midfielder Arfield, who has a Canadian father, went off injured late on to be replaced by Charlie Trafford.

A glimmer of hope

The Canada goal after 11 minutes stunned the crowd of 9,158 into silence. Not that they had much to cheer about, but there were a couple of encouraging displays for Strachan’s side.

With no natural right-backs in the squad, Derby County’s Ikechi Anya was again given the role after playing the position in November’s defeat by England. And the 29-year-old proved once again his versatility, going forward at every opportunity and attempting to link up with both Robert Snodgrass and debutant Tom Cairney.

  • Poor start affected Scotland – Strachan

And in Cairney, there was a player who at times showed a willingness to get forward and support his strikers. It was his shot that was turned in by Naismith for Scotland’s equaliser.

Scotland and Canada players

Apart from a cross from Snodgrass that hit the post, there was little else for the fans to cheer about.

Anya will likely continue at right-back on Sunday and although there were appearances in the second half for John McGinn, Leigh Griffiths and Jordan Rhodes, none looked to have done enough to force their way into the starting line-up, with Rhodes passing up a late chance.

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  • 1McGregor
  • 2Anya
  • 4Berra
  • 5Mulgrew
  • 3Wallace