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Scotland vs Israel. UEFA Nations League Group B2.

Hampden Park.

Scotland 1

  • R Christie (45th minute pen)

Israel 1

  • E Zahavi (73rd minute)

Scotland 1-1 Israel: Ryan Christie penalty not enough as Steve Clarke's men held

Report as Eran Zahavi cancels out Ryan Christie's first-half penalty in Nations League opener

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Highlights of the UEFA Nations League Group B2 match between Scotland and Israel.

Scotland were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Israel in an insipid Nations League opener at an empty Hampden Park, in their first international for 10 months.

After David Marshall's reflex save denied Moanes Dabbur an Israeli opener, Ryan Christie put Scotland in front on 44 minutes from the penalty spot after John McGinn was fouled by Eitan Tibi.

Israel improved in the second half and deservedly drew level through Eran Zahavi, after some slick interplay with Dabbur.

Scotland lacked cohesion at times in an unfamiliar formation, with Steve Clarke shying away from his preferred back four by picking three centre halves, and despite a promising debut from QPR striker Lyndon Dykes, this performance will have given Clarke plenty to ponder, ahead of Monday's trip to the Czech Republic.

How Scotland were pegged back at Hampden

Arsenal's Kieran Tierney made his first Scotland appearance in almost two years as part of a back three, joining Scott McKenna and Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay in defence. Captain Andy Robertson and James Forrest acted as wing-backs, as Clarke attempted to get as many of his best players on the pitch as possible.

A fortnight after moving from Livingston to QPR for £2m, Dykes made his international debut as the lone striker, but he was kept quiet in the opening quarter as Scotland largely controlled possession without threatening Hibernian's Ofir Marciano in the Israeli goal.

Israel had scored twice on their visit to Hampden two years ago, and captain Bibras Natkho caused Scotland's fledgling backline some early worries with a number of delightful crosses into the penalty area, but Tierney and McKenna in particular were up to the task of clearing their lines.

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Scotland made five changes from the side which beat Kazakhstan last November, including recalls for Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson, and a debut for Lyndon Dykes in attack.

Dor Peretz was booked for a late challenge on Dykes as he set up Christie on the break, but Scotland failed to make the most of the advantage; indeed there was a general lack of quality about the play of both sides, perhaps not helped by the eerie atmosphere around Hampden Park, with the stands empty bar a handful of media and official onlookers.

Forrest was cautioned for a foul on Taleb Tawatha, and Peretz then tested David Marshall from distance, but the lack of flow to the game continued towards half-time. Callum McGregor, who had hardly seen the ball in a crowded midfield, dragged a shot wide, but there was then drama at both ends just before the break.

Israel should have taken the lead when McTominay misread a cross from the right, and Marshall produced a magnificent save to deny Munas Dabbur at the back post. Having ridden their luck, Scotland then took the lead.

McGinn was tripped in the box by Eitan Tibi as the pair lunged for a Dykes knockdown following a corner, and Christie ignored the heckling from the Israeli bench as he swept the penalty high past Marciano, to give Scotland a somewhat fortunate lead at the interval.

Israel, aggrieved at going behind, started the second half brighter but were unable to test Marshall. At the other end, Dykes continued to work hard despite often lacking support - at times when Scotland cleared, he was 30 yards away from another blue shirt, but his strength and linkup play in tight areas was impressive.

Eran Zahavi's 20th international goal levelled things up for Israel at Hampden Park
Image: Eran Zahavi's 20th international goal levelled things up for Israel at Hampden Park

Scotland's lead was a fragile one, and Israel were building some concerted pressure, while being enthusiastically cheered on by their substitutes. One cross in particular from the right by Eli Dasa flashed across the Scotland six-yard box, begging for a touch, but somehow Dabbur and Zahavi failed to connect.

The equaliser did come on 72 minutes, and it was a moment of quality from Zahavi. He gathered a throw-in and played a neat one-two with Dabbur, before lashing the ball into the top corner past Marshall, who could perhaps have done better. It was no more than the visitors deserved.

Clarke sent on Oliver Burke and Stuart Armstrong for Dykes and McGinn as Scotland sought some attacking impetus, but Israel had grown in confidence and the game was now up for grabs. Christie seemed the most likely source of another Scottish goal, but he couldn't get a shot away as he danced into the box, and his cross was acrobatically held by Marciano, as the game petered out.

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  • Scotland have drawn their first game since October 2017 against Slovenia, ending a run of 21 consecutive matches without a draw.
  • Israel avoided defeat in an away game against Scotland for the first time, having lost their previous two visits in 1981 and 2018.
  • Ryan Christie has been directly involved in seven goals in his last seven starts for Scotland (2 goals, 5 assists).
  • Only John McGinn (7 goals, 2 assists) has been involved in more goals for Scotland since Steve Clarke took charge of his first game in June 2019 than Ryan Christie (2 goals, 2 assists).
  • Scotland have scored a penalty in three of their last four UEFA Nations League matches, with two of those against Israel (October 2018 and tonight).
  • Israel's Eran Zahavi has been directly involved in 17 goals in his last 13 appearances for his country (14 goals, 3 assists). Both of Zahavi's goals in the UEFA Nations League have been against Scotland at Hampden Park.

What's next?

Scotland's next game is against Czech Republic on Monday night on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm; kick-off at 7.45pm.

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