UEFA Nations League Group B2
Israel 1 - 0 Scotland
Wednesday, 18 November 2020, kick-off 7.45pm 
Netanya Stadium, Netanya
Israel: Solomon (44')

Scotland fell short in the bid for Nations League promotion with a 1-0 defeat against Israel.

Despite dominating in large spells, the clinical hosts edged the encounter in Netanya after Manor Solomon’s first half strike.

Steve Clarke selected the same eleven who started in Thursday’s Play-Off final in Serbia as his side searched for the win needed to top Group B2 in the Nations League.

As It Happened

Ryan Christie looked almost certain to win a penalty in the opening few minutes when he latched on to a ball in behind the Israel defence, but despite being clipped the midfielder managed to keep his balance and the referee allowed play to continue.

The in-form Celtic man continued to threaten the hosts early on, when some clever footwork opened up an opportunity in the tenth minute, but his shot soared narrowly over the bar. The referee awarded a free kick for a foul as Christie got his shot off, but from the resulting set piece, the wall stood tall to deny Scotland’s number 11 a goal-bound effort.

Israel looked to threaten down the right hand side when Dasa collected the ball, found midfielder Natcho in space on the edge of the box who floated a wonderful ball for the deep run of Menachem, but his low effort was well smothered by David Marshall.

Up the other end, Lyndon Dykes, who was looking as lively and continually dominant in the air, was inches from getting on the end of a dangerous delivery from the Scotland right flank, but it flashed just beyond the reach of the striker.

Clarke’s men continued to control large parts of the game and in the 25th minute went close again. From a Christie corner, Declan Gallagher rose highest to meet the out-swinging delivery, but his header landed on the roof of Ofir Marciano’s net.

Two minutes later, a wonderful Scotland move led to a decent chance for Stephen O’Donnell. John McGinn, timing his run brilliantly, strode through towards goal before cleverly pulling back for Callum McGregor who flicked a delicate ball in to the Motherwell man inside the box, but he dragged his effort wide of the mark.

A stunning save from Hibernian keeper Marciano denied former Hibs man McGinn from giving Scotland the lead. A flat, pinpoint cross from Scott McTominay was flicked on brilliantly by the Aston Villa midfielder but, as it arrowed towards the opposite top corner, Marciano soared across his goal and got a terrific hand to the ball to palm it wide.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Dykes towered above his man to send a downward header on target from O’Donnell’s searching cross, but Marciano got down comfortably to stop it.

Against the run of play, the hosts took the lead when the hit Scotland with a swift counter-attack. Zahavi collected the ball on the half way line and slipped Solomon down the left flank. The tricky attacker wrong-footed McTominay in the box to open up a yard of space and send a left-footed effort beyond Marshall in to the far corner.

The home side started strongly in the second half and nearly doubled their advantage when Zahavi struck a dangerous effort from the edge of the box, but it was always curling wide of the far post.

Scotland responded immediately though and went close to drawing level. O’Donnell sent a neat ball in to the path of Christie in the Israel box. The midfielder swivelled and found McGinn just inside the area but his effort on goal was blocked behind for a corner.

From the resulting delivery, Gallagher got up well but could not keep his header down as it looped harmlessly over the bar.

A few minutes later, a brilliant ball in to the marauding run of O’Donnell sent the defender flying towards the Israel goal supported by Dykes in a dangerous two-on-two situation. O’Donnell took a fantastic first touch and fired a low effort on target, which Marciano got his body behind to keep the hosts in front.

Clarke made a double substitution on the hour mark as he looked to find an all-important way back in to the game. Dykes and McGinn made way for Oli McBurnie and Leigh Griffiths with half an hour remaining in Netanya.

The two substitutes started to link up nicely and when Griffiths teed up McGregor on the edge of the box, he did well to drag the ball on to his right foot, but he was charged down quickly and his shot was blocked.

With just under 20 minutes remaining, Scotland continued to push for a leveller and Kieran Tierney nearly caught Marciano out when his looping cross nearly found the top corner, but the Israel stopper tipped it over the bar.

The manager made a further two changes in the 73rd minute, replacing Motherwell duo O’Donnell and Gallagher with Oliver Burke and Scott McKenna.

Marshall was forced in to a good stop to deny the hosts their second goal with just their second shot on target, but the stopper got down brilliantly to keep the score line at 1-0.

Scott McKenna came very close to scoring an equaliser in the 87th minute as his header from an Andy Robertson ruffled the outside of the net. Griffiths then had a great chance from 12 yards out but miss-hit his half-volley and it was easy for Marciano to gather in his hands.

Deep into added time, Scotland claimed for a penalty. Dasi deflected the ball off his thigh onto his outstretched arm. Marciano was quick to react and dive to the bottom right hand corner to turn it round for a corner to prevent the own goal. 

Like Sunday, the last chance of the game fell to Leigh Griffiths. His free-kick from 20 yards forced Marciano into another diving save. 

What Next?

All eyes are on the FIFA World Cup Qualifier draw that takes place on 7 December.

These qualifiers will begin in March before UEFA EURO 2020 in June.

The Teams

Scotland: Marshall, O’Donnell (Burke, ‘73), Robertson, McTominay, Gallagher (McKenna, ‘73), Tierney, McGinn (Griffiths, ‘61) Jack, Dykes (McBurnie, ‘61), McGregor (McLean, ‘82), Christie

Unused subs: McLaughlin, Gordon, Taylor, Cooper, Shankland, Palmer, Considine

Israel: Marciano, Dasa, Menachem, Bitton, Natcho (Golasa 62'), Zahavi, Solomon (Cohen 84'), Yeini (Dgani 78'), Weissman, Lavi (Abu Fani 78'), Tibi

Unused subs: Harush, Peretz, Khalaila, Tawatha, Dadia, Hanna, Nitzan