EDINBURGH, Scotland — It seemed only fitting that Fraser Aird, who has ties to both countries, was the star man in Canada's 1-1 tie with Scotland in a soccer friendly Wednesday.
Aird, a former Scotland youth and 'B' international, scored Canada's goal and was a threat all night as the underdog Canadians avoided defeat for the first time in six career meetings with the Scots.
At No. 67, Scotland is ranked 50 places higher than Canada. So Wednesday's result will have done little to boost Scottish spirits before a key World Cup qualifier on the weekend.
But it was a night to remember for the Toronto-born Aird, albeit a bittersweet one as he dedicated his first goal for Canada to his Scottish father, who passed away in January.
"He must have been watching down on me today," said Aird, a former Vancouver Whitecap who now plays his club soccer in Scotland for Falkirk. "I have to say obviously that goal was for him. First goal for my country.
"He was a big part of my decision to play for Canada, even though he was Scottish. So all credit for him for that. I think I've made the right decision."
Scotland will rue the goal, with Aird punishing the home side for some slack defending in the 11th minute.
The Scots had two chances to clear a Maxim Tissot cross but the ball went only to Aird, who lashed home a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Allan McGregor on a blustery night at Easter Road Stadium, home to Hibernian.
The 22-year-old Aird, playing his fifth game for Canada, threatened the Scots on several occasions from midfield and forced a fine diving McGregor save in the 78th minute with a long-range shot.
Steven Naismith replied in the 35th minute for Scotland, which had a chance to go ahead deep into stoppage time but Jordan Rhodes' deflection went wide.
The Scots were using the game as a tune-up for their World Cup qualifier Sunday in Glasgow against Slovenia. Scotland (1-2-1) needs a win to stay in touch in a group that also features England, Slovakia, Lithuania and Malta.
New Canadian manager Octavio Zambrano watched from the stands as Michael Findlay finished out his stretch as interim head coach. Findlay, who is staying on as one of Zambrano's assistant coaches, went 2-2-1 as interim coach after the departure of Benito Floro last September.
Findlay was pleased with the tie, to a degree.
"We also look at it and say I think we had opportunities to win the game, and I think that's probably the most positive thing that comes from it," he said.
"Great result in terms of what we're looking for," he added.
FC Edmonton defender/midfielder Nik Ledgerwood, one of six North American-based players in the 18-man squad, captained Canada on the occasion of his 50th cap.
The goal seemed to wake Scotland up and the home side rattled a shot off the post two minutes later.
Canada started to live dangerously in its own end. Canadian goalkeeper Simon Thomas stopped Chris Martin and Oliver Burke while defender Manjrekar James stuck a foot out to snuff out another Scottish threat.
The Scots finally broke through late in the first half. Thomas made a fine save, only to see Naismith bang the rebound home.
At the other end, McGregor had to be sharp to beat Simeon Jackson to the ball late in the first half.
Goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler came on for Thomas to open the second half for his second cap.
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan elected to rest his Celtic players for the Slovenia game, other than second-half substitute Leigh Griffiths.
West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher captained Scotland, one of two Premier League players in the home team's starting 11. Seven others were from the second-tier English Championship with one from the Scottish top-flight and another from Germany's Bundesliga.
Fletcher earned his 78th cap, moving past Alex McLeish into third place in the Scottish record book. Only Kenny Dalglish (102) and Jim Leighton (91) have more caps.
Canadian forward Marcus Haber was unavailable after suffering a knock to his knee playing for his Scottish club side Dundee on the weekend.
With the Major League Soccer season in its early days, the Canadian Soccer Association fielded a largely European-based squad.
The Canadian Press