Scotland’s hopes of winning their Nations League group were ended tonight after a 1-0 defeat to Israel. A Manor Solomon strike made sure an historic week for the Scots ended with disappointment.
Scotland needed just one win from their final two group games to secure the top spot, but two consecutive defeats meant they slipped to second place behind the Czech Republic, who secured top spot with a 2-0 win over Slovakia.
A quiet start to the game brought no clear chances for either side. Ryan Christie hit a free kick into the wall, before Stephen O’Donnell should have done better, as he dragged an effort wide.
John McGinn’s header after half an hour looked destined for the back of the net, but Ofir Marciano pulled off an excellent reflex save to keep him at bay.
Solomon gave Israel the lead just before half time after a quick counter attack from the home side, turning Scott McTominay inside-out before placing a left-footed effort into the far corner of David Marshall’s goal.
Scotland looked flat throughout the second half and struggled to create as many clear-cut chances as the game wore on. Declan Gallagher rose to meet a floated corner kick, but will be disappointed as he headed over the bar.
Israel should have doubled their lead in the 79th minute, but Marshall was able to get behind the close-range effort and keep Scotland in the game.
Steve Clarke will be aggrieved that his team weren’t awarded a late penalty after what appeared to be an obvious handball by Eliazer Dasa, but referee Pawel Raczkowski was unmoved.
Substitute Leigh Griffiths fired a strong free kick towards Marciano’s goal in the closing stages, but the Hibernian man was equal to the effort and his side held on for their second victory of the campaign.
Marshall was disappointed to lose in Israel, but believes Scotland created enough chances to get something from the game.
“The first goal was always going to be important on the night… we probably never played as well as Slovakia [game] but certainly had enough chances to go in front and get an equaliser,” he said.
However, the ‘keeper couldn’t hide his disappointment at missing out on promotion.
“Obviously we’ve missed a chance to get into that A Group by winning the B section, but we have come an awful long way.”
Scotland now turn their attention to World Cup Qualifying; the draw will take place on December 7th, with matches starting in March next year.