TORONTO -- Dwayne De Rosario scored the biggest goal of his career in a Canadian uniform on Friday night.
He hopes there are plenty more to come.
The 34-year-old midfielder cooly slotted home a record 20th goal for his country as Canada defeated Panama 1-0 in World Cup qualifying before a raucous crowd at BMO Field.
"Hopefully I can have more special moments in the future," De Rosario said. "I'm happy I got the goal in front of our fans -- it felt real good -- but most important, we got the win."
The Toronto native scored in the 77th minute off a quickly taken free kick by Canada's Atiba Hutchinson just outside the penalty area.
The stunned Panamanians could only watch as Hutchinson lofted a ball to the waiting De Rosario, who tapped it home from in close to pass Dale Mitchell on Canada's all-time goalscoring list.
"Great vision by Atiba Hutchinson to catch the defence sleeping and all I had to do was focus on the ball and put it in the back of the net," De Rosario said. "Happy to get that goal in front of our fans (and) in front of a great crowd tonight.
"This is a special day today. To be able to score and help our country get over that hump -- it was a great play by all the guys. Great team effort."
Canadian coach Stephen Hart said he wasn't aware that De Rosario was on the cusp of grabbing the national team's all-time scoring record until it was announced over the loudspeakers.
"I think it's good for him that he broke the record," Hart said. "But as a coach, I don't care who scores."
Canada has had difficulty scoring in past qualifying campaigns, including a 0-0 draw with Honduras at home in June, but De Rosario said this team believes it can come up big at crunch time.
"We have guys with strong mentalities and it showed tonight," he said. "We didn't get ourselves down ... and we just kept plugging away and we had one great chance and we capitalized on it."
Canada, which has not qualified for the World Cup since 1986, leads its group in this round of qualifying with seven points from three games, one ahead of Panama. The return match goes Tuesday in Panama City.
"We're going into a hostile environment in Panama and hopefully we'll have the same mentality and grind out a point or try to get a victory away from home," De Rosario said. "We're fighting for our dreams and we're fighting for a spot in Brazil."