Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Scots' flop has cleared up selection dilemmas: Strachan

By Gavin McCafferty

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan claimed their 1-1 draw against Canada was "invaluable" for his team selection ahead of Sunday's game against Slovenia.

Falkirk midfielder Fraser Aird capitalised on some slack defending in the 11th minute to open the scoring for the under-strength visitors, ranked 117th in the world.

Both sides had half-chances before Steven Naismith diverted home an equaliser 10 minutes before the break.

Scotland struggled to create clear chances on a very sticky Easter Road pitch after the break and many of the fans in the crowd - which had an official attendance of 9,158 - booed the hosts.

But Strachan, who handed starts to the likes of Ikechi Anya, Chris Martin and Oliver Burke after a lack of game time for their clubs, felt the performance made things clearer ahead of the World Cup qualifier against a side four points ahead of them in Group F.

"It was one of our better decisions to have a game," Strachan said. "It has cleared up a lot of things, it has helped a lot of players, but it has helped the coaching staff in particular to where we are going on Sunday. We learned quite a few things.

"It's not been a great night, it won't be memorable in anyone's minds but it was invaluable to me to use the information we collected for Sunday."

It was a dispiriting result for Scotland, who will have to find a performance from somewhere against the Slovenians if they are to keep alive their hopes of reaching Russia next summer.

The members of the Tartan Army who did turn out were rocked when the visitors took the lead.

Left-back Lee Wallace and Charlie Mulgrew failed to deal with a Maxim Tissot cross from the left and when the ball fell kindly to Aird, the former Rangers player dispatched his shot from 12 yards past Allan McGregor.

Scotland picked up the pace. Midfielder Burke blasted a shot straight at Simon Thomas in the 31st minute and three minutes later they levelled, when Naismith redirected a drive from Tom Cairney over the line from 12 yards.

Scotland explored a more direct route as the second half progressed but with no more success.

They kept pushing and Jordan Rhodes missed in stoppage time when he failed to convert Leigh Griffiths' cut back and some boos accompanied the final whistle.

Belfast Telegraph

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