Scotland 3 - Canada 1
Crawford (2) de Rosario
Just five weeks ago, following the debacle in the Faroes, the prospect of Berti Vogts inspiring his Scotland team to two consecutive victories seemed, to say the least, very improbable indeed. Yet two goals from Steven Crawford and one from his striking counterpart Steven Thompson combined with a combative and occasionally confident display from an experimental home side proved enough to dispense with the visiting Canadians and confirm that the general air of optimism produced by victory in Iceland was not without foundation. Not even the setback of an early penalty for the visitors, won and converted by Dwayne de Rosario, was enough to dampen the enthusiasm of a buoyant Easter Road crowd.
That's how it feels to score
With midfield trio Jackie McNamara, Barry Ferguson and Paul Lambert opting out through injury and Gary Naysmith relegated to the bench following the exploits in Reykjavik, Scotland manager Vogts chose to give full debuts to Paul Devlin and Russell Anderson. The somewhat makeshift nature of the line-up was confirmed as Maurice Ross switched to left wing-back to accommodate Graham Alexander on the right and Christian Dailly, captain for the evening, pushed into defensive midfield behind Evertonís Scott Gemmill.
The wisdom of such comprehensive alterations came quickly into question. A mixture of uncharacteristic dithering inside his own penalty box from Steven Pressley followed by an inexperienced shove on de Rosario from Anderson contrived to provide Canada with the opportunity of a ninth minute advantage. The opportunity was duly accepted. Just two minutes later, however, a piercing through ball from Gemmill found Crawford running into space on the edge of the Canadian box and the Dunfermline striker showed great composure to slot his finish between the legs of the onrushing goalkeeper.
Devlin made a decent debut
With parity so swiftly restored Scotland began to take control of the game. Perhaps boosted by Pressleyís firm marshalling of his defence, and Thompsonís bustling and battling presence up front, the enigmatic Gemmill seemed disinclined to lose the ball with his usual gusto. The home teamís consequent ability to retain possession led to a period of sustained pressure that eventually saw Ross hit the back of the net from a Crawford cross only to be ruled out for offside midway through the first half. Further chances fell to Thompson and Dailly but de Rosario should have re-established the visitorsí lead on the half-hour when he failed to connect with a Daniel Imhof cutback eight yards from goal.
This rare foray into the opposing half appeared to boost Canadian confidence as the game approached half-time. Prompted by the running and trickery of the German based pair Tam Nsawila and Julian de Guzman, the much vaunted Tomasz Radzinski used his pace to carve out a low shot which Paul Gallacher did well to parry before Lee Wilkie blocked de Guzmanís effort from the rebound. The final chance of the half fell to Scotland, however, as Thompson met a Ross cross from the left with a diving header which floated disappointingly wide.
The previously embattled Scotland managerís decision to reshuffle his pack at half-time would prove to be an inspired one. After only five minutes of the second period had elapsed, substitute Callum Davidson, on for Ross, dispossessed Heartsí Kevin McKenna before finding Thompson with an angled pass. The Dundee United forward calmly drilled his shot beyond Lars Hirschfeld for his second international goal.
Thompson gets that goal scoring feeling
Despite Gallacher being forced into another save, this time from the ever menacing de Rosario, Devlinís ability to find space and time in a more attacking position on the wide right, and Crawford and Thompsonís effective partnership in attack meant the team in dark blue remained the more obvious source of further goals. And a third duly arrived when the impressive triumvirate combined as Thompsonís angled effort from a Devlin cross was turned into the net by the Crawford.
With mission accomplished Vogts found time to acknowledge the chants of "Berti, Berti, give us a wave" from the home support before introducing two young prospects for their first caps in the shape of Ian Murray and James McFadden, on for Wilkie and Thompson respectively. That their impact was limited on this ultimately most upbeat of occasions will surely be offset by future contributions. On this evidence it seems it is not without good cause that the manager declared this Ďa great week for Scottish footballí after the game. Suddenly the future seems a whole lot brighter.
Scotland: Gallacher, Dailly, Pressley, Wilkie, Anderson, Graham Alexander, Gemmill, Devlin, Ross, Crawford, Thompson.
Subs: Neil Alexander, Davidson, Severin, McFadden, Murray, Williams, Kevin Kyle.
Canada: Hirschfeld, McKenna, Hastings, Stalteri, Pozniak, Nsaliwa, Imhof, Radzinski, De Rosario, Fenwick, de Guzman.
Subs: Nash, Xausa, Hutchinson, Onstad.
Referee: L Huyghe