Scotland 1-1 Israel: Steve Clarke’s side held in Nations League opener

Ryan Christie
Ryan Christie’s conversion from the penalty spot gave Scotland the lead just before the break

Scotland were denied a fourth straight victory and a winning start to their Nations League campaign after a frustrating draw against Israel.

Ryan Christie’s penalty had the Scots in front at half-time inside an empty Hampden. But a slick move from the Israelis carved open their hosts with 17 minutes to play, allowing Eran Zahavi to crash in a sweet strike.

Steve Clarke’s side now face an uncertain wait with Czech Republic claiming their Nations League tie on Monday has been called off.

If that is the case, it would mean Scotland’s next match would be in October’s European Championship play-off against Israel again.

Lyndon Dykes made his Scotland debut in attack, but was isolated during a deeply frustrating night for Scotland as the Czechs saw off Slovakia 3-1 in Bratislava.

And instead of equalling a winning-run record that has stood since 2007, a sense of what could have been will linger in the aftermath of this surreal contest.

It should be said that Scotland had their moments. Their play at times was controlled, comfortable and in the form of Christie, had a spark. Playing Kieran Tierney on the left of a back three and Andy Robertson as wing-back offers promise.

But it was a game that, while Scotland looked steady for large spells, never seemed likely to be put out of sight. Instead, there seemed almost an inevitability about what was to come as Israel grew into the game in the second half.

Ofir Marciano, the Hibernian goalkeeper between the sticks for Israel, had pretty much nothing to do other than fish the ball out his net at 1-0. The stats say 11 on shots on target, just two found the goal.

It says a lot about the game that there was little between the teams until a minute before the deadlock was broken.

Scotland heatmap
Scotland’s heatmap shows the lack of possession in the opposition box

It was a warning shot for the Scots in the form of a looping cross from Eli Dasa. Scott McTominay, playing at the back, got caught under the ball, leaving a void as big as the empty stands for Munas Dabbur to lurch forward and head at David Marshall. Thankfully for Scotland, their keeper’s reaction stop saved them.

Just over 60 seconds later, the hosts were in front. A clever knockdown from Dykes found John McGinn and the Aston Villa man was bundled over clumsily. Christie stepped up and rammed a left-footed pearler high to Marciano’s left.

Scotland had their noses in front, but it was a lead that never came close to being increased. Instead, they were stung with a moment of brilliance from the team aiming to keep their wait for a major tournament going in a month’s time.

Zahavi played a neat one-two with Dabbur, whose flick caught the Scotland defence sleeping. With Marshall’s goal opening up, the midfielder crashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net for his 13th goal in 13 games for his country.

What did we learn?

Clarke was adamant this was no dress rehearsal for the play-off next month, but fans will inevitably draw their own conclusions prior to Israel’s return on 8 October.

Both teams will take some sort of encouragement. Both defences, barring a lapse each, seemed solid, while play was allowed to ebb and flow.

Scotland had this game to throw away, making it all the more chastening that victory was relinquished. The use of Tierney and Robertson worked well; Marshall looked sharp in goal; and there was a dynamism – at times – in midfield. But with a new formation and a host of English-based players lacking full fitness, there are possibly more questions than answers following a sobering 90 minutes.

The biggest will remain over the attack. While Dykes will be content with a decent debut, there wasn’t a cutting edge and not a great deal of service for the number nine. It’s a similar lament, but will it be rectified in time for next month’s rematch?

Man of the match

Ryan Christie
Scotland’s goalscorer Ryan Christie’s overall play earned him the accolade. In the second half, his play on the left was spontaneous and creative, with the Celtic man keen to take on his men and cleave open space.

Match stats

  • Scotland have drawn their first game since October 2017 against Slovenia, ending a run of 21 consecutive matches.
  • Israel avoided defeat in Scotland for the first time, having lost in 1981 and 2018.
  • Christie has been involved in seven goals in his past seven Scotland starts (2 goals, 5 assists).
  • Only McGinn (7 goals, 2 assists) has been involved in more goals for Scotland since Steve Clarke took charge.



  • 1Marshall
  • 2McTominay
  • 5McKenna
  • 6Tierney
  • 7ForrestBooked at 34mins
  • 4Jack
  • 10McGregor
  • 3Robertson
  • 8McGinnSubstituted forArmstrongat 79′minutes
  • 9DykesSubstituted forBurkeat 74′minutes
  • 11Christie


  • 12McLaughlin
  • 13Paterson
  • 14Fleck
  • 15Gallagher
  • 16Cooper
  • 17Burke
  • 18Armstrong
  • 19McLean
  • 20O’Donnell
  • 21McCrorie
  • 22Palmer
  • 23Taylor


  • 18Marciano
  • 2Dasa
  • 4Bitton
  • 21Tibi
  • 17Elhamed
  • 13Tawatha
  • 8PeretzBooked at 28minsSubstituted forCohenat 72′minutes
  • 6Natcho
  • 11SolomonSubstituted forGlazerat 90′minutes
  • 7Zahavi
  • 9DabburSubstituted forWeissmanat 79′minutes


  • 1Harush
  • 3Glazer
  • 5Dgani
  • 10Weissman
  • 12Yeini
  • 14Cohen
  • 15Arad
  • 16Almog
  • 19Elmkies
  • 20Abu Hanna
  • 22Rikan
  • 23Nitzan

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