A goal by Houston Dynamo defender Andre Hainault was the difference on Tuesday as Canada won their first match of the year, 1-0, over Belarus.
The match was a closed-door friendly played in Antalya, Turkey, and pitted the Canucks against the 37th-ranked Belarusians. Real Salt Lake's Will Johnson started and played 77 minutes in the contest, facoring into the match's lone goal by serving the corner kick that Hainault finished in the second half.
Canada were the more aggressive side in the opening half and went into the halftime break up 4-0 on corner kicks and outshooting the Belarusians 4-2. Yet the Canucks had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, and the first 45 minutes ended scoreless.
The second half started more evenly, with a couple of Belarus substitutions bringing a bit of fire to the match. The Canadians were up to the task, however, and in the 58th minute they finally broke the deadlock.
After winning a free kick, Canada forced the Belrusians to push the ball out for a corner. On the ensuing restart, Hainault met Johnson's cross and finally put the Canadians ahead.
The goal galvanized the Europeans, and Belarus pressed hard for an equalizer. It was not to be as Canada soaked up the pressure and secured the victory.
The match was Canada’s third straight against European opposition, following a 2-2 draw at Ukraine last fall and a 1-0 loss to Greece in February. The Canadians do not have another match scheduled until the CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off June 7, although a friendly against an unknown opponent at Toronto’s BMO Field is rumored for June 1.