Manager Steve Clarke is calm over Scotland’s prospects of reaching the Qatar 2022 World Cup after just two qualifying matches.
Clarke’s side made it two points from two games, following up Wednesday’s 2-2 stalemate with Austria by drawing 1-1 with Israel in Tel Aviv.
Going into the current triple-header, which concludes against the Faroe Islands at Hampden on Wednesday, seven points would’ve been considered a good return.
However, two draws mean the Scots have already fallen behind the Austrians, who have four points, and qualifying group leaders Denmark, with six points.
However, Clarke thinks international football means is too unpredictable to say what’s going to happen in Group F at this early juncture.
The boss, who will lead Scotland to the Euros in the summer, said: “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the fixtures coming up.
“I know we have the Faroes midweek and if we beat them, which we have to look to do, we have to play well and respect the opposition, because they are nobody’s mugs.
“Every game in international football now is difficult. Spain scored in the 93rd minute to beat Georgia, Malta drew away in Slovakia, Luxembourg beat the Republic of Ireland, so there are no easy games in international football any more, so we have to respect the opposition.
“If get three points, it’s five points at the end of the week, and Austria play Denmark, so Austria or Denmark or both are going to drop points this week. So let’s see what happens.”
Last night’s draw, which saw Ryan Fraser pull Scotland back level after the break, following a lacklustre first half in which Dor Peretz struck from 25 yards to give the home side the lead, was the sixth meeting between the Scots and Israel in three years.
The Dark Blues’ record against the Israelis over this period is now two wins, two losses and two draws.
Clarke doesn’t think “good team” Israel get enough credit after another tight encounter and says Scotland “didn’t handle” their faster start.
He said: “Israel were bright, inventive, pressed us well and we didn’t handle it, but eventually we managed to get a modicum of control and the changes we made at half-time made us better.
“We had better control of the game. We controlled the game better, we passed the ball better, we found good positions on the pitch. With a little bit more quality around the final third, we might just have managed to get two goals, but it wasn’t to be.”
Scotland hero David Marshall, whose penalty save secured Euros qualification, will likely think he could’ve kept out Peretz’s opener, having got two hands to the top-corner-bound strike.
Clarke said he was yet to speak to his goalie, adding: “We go away and analyse the game. We stay here overnight and fly back tomorrow. We’ll try to get some analysis of the game on the flight.”
The Scots gaffer handed a first start to Southampton’s Che Adams in Tel Aviv, after he made his debut off the bench against the Austrians at Hampden.
Adams teed up Fraser after the break for the equaliser and was denied a winner moments later by Ofir Marciano in the Israel goal.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) March 28, 2021
Clarke said: “It’s good for Che to get his start. He did well for the goal.
“He was a little bit disappointed he didn’t get on the scoresheet himself as he had one or two half opportunities to get a shot away and he couldn’t quite do it.”
The manager left his defence untouched for the Israel clash, but Callum McGregor, Fraser and Adams replaced Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie and Lyndon Dykes.
After both teams had early sighters, the first big moment of the match arrived on eight minutes, with Scott McTominay rising highest to nod Andy Robertson’s corner past the left post.
There was a worrying moment for the visitors on 17 minutes, when Eitan Tibi, with plenty of time in the Israel backline, was able to play a long-ball almost all the way through to unmarked striker Shon Weissman.
Israel making the most of the space left by Scotland’s hands-off approach would become a theme of the first half.
A huge chance then fell to Manor Solomon with 25 minutes played after a defence-opening pass from Natcho, but the man who scored the winner the last time the sides met in November shot straight at Marshall.
On 44 minutes, the home side deservedly took the lead – and it was a goal which looked sensational at first glance, but the replays weren’t kind to Marshall.
Scotland changed from a back three to a back four at half-time, with the tweak allowing Christie to be sent on in place of Jack Hendry, and there was also a clear change in intent.
They were rewarded on 56 minutes, John McGinn releasing the onrushing Adams. The Southampton striker in turn played a pass across the edge of the box to Fraser, who – despite appearing to have taken too long to release his shot – fired a pinpoint low strike into the bottom left corner.
On 61 minutes, Scotland almost went ahead, with Fraser and Adams swapping roles. The ex-Don, driving forward at pace, slid in the Saints striker, but, after shifting the ball on to his right foot, his attempt to place it in the far corner was blocked by Marciano.
In the final half an hour, one clear cut-chance for either side would’ve likely been enough. Israel’s Sun Menachem headed into the side netting at the back post, while Stephen O’Donnell blocked an effort from Solomon, but the gilt-edged opportunity never arose.