Scotland have drawn 1-1 with Israel in Tel Aviv, meaning it’s two points from two World Cup qualifying games.
Boss Steve Clarke, who would likely have been targeting seven points from three games in this international window – against Austria, the Israelis and the Faroe Islands – changed his starting line-up from the 2-2 draw with the Austrians in midweek.
The manager left his defence untouched, but Callum McGregor replaced Stuart Armstrong in central midfield, while Aberdonian Ryan Fraser and Che Adams – who made his debut off the bench on Wednesday – played in two of the three forward positions instead of Ryan Christie and Lyndon Dykes.
Israel came into the game, the sixth meeting of the sides in three years, after starting their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 loss to Denmark on Wednesday evening.
Scotland’s record in the previous five fixtures against the Israelis was two wins, two losses and a draw, with one of the victories their penalty shoot-out triumph in October’s European Championship play-off semi-final.
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. The Manchester United midfielder should have hit the target and, four minutes later, McTominay also side-footed a low Fraser centre over at the front post.
There was a worrying moment for the visitors on 17 minutes, when Tibi, with plenty of time in the Israel backline, was able to play a long-ball all the way through to unmarked striker Weissman.
Israel making the most of the space left by Scotland’s hands-off approach would become a theme of the first half and this particular lapse in concentration could’ve been costly had David Marshall not been quick to get out and clear.
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 from 15 yards.
Eight minutes before the break – and with Scotland struggling to create opportunities up the other end – Israel spurned another chance, with striker Weissman heading tamely to Marshall’s right from Natcho’s clipped ball in.
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.
The 25-yard strike from Peretz was well hit and flew towards the right top corner, however, the Dark Blues goalie got two hands to the ball and might have pushed it round the post.
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.
It was clear also there had also been a change of intent, with Scotland closing down the Israelis quicker than they had been in the first half, as well as showing more drive and speed with the ball at their feet.
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 beyond Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano into the bottom left corner.
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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.
Despite the improvement after the break, Israel were still in the fight and, after some lacklustre marking, the Scots were fortunate Menachem opted to aim a header at the front post instead of across goal around the 70th minute. The effort hit the side netting as Stephen O’Donnell and Marshall watched on.
It was too close to call with 10 minutes to play, with both sides getting forward gamely in search of three vital qualifying points, but shots drifted wide, or the ball would sit up promisingly before efforts were blocked in a tangle of bodies. It was clear the next clear-cut chance, if one could be fashioned, would decide the game.
On 81 minutes, Israel’s goalscorer Peretz was booked for throwing himself the ground under minimal contact from Andy Robertson in the Scotland area, before – on 84 minutes – O’Donnell stopped a Solomon effort from eight yards out.
Even with four minutes added on, Scotland couldn’t create another big moment, and head back to Glasgow for their third match of the camp, against the Faroes on Wednesday, with two points from their first two Qatar 2022 qualifiers. It’s a return which leaves them behind both Denmark (six points) and Austria (four points) in Group F.