Israel come from behind to beat Scotland who have defender John Souttar dismissed

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Hearts striker Steven Naismith is barged over in the box to win his side a first-half penalty


By the end of a torrid night in the Holy Land, Scotland found themselves crucified by mistakes of their own making.

Leading at half-time through a Charlie Mulgrew penalty the second half of this depressing defeat was a gruesome watch in the end. 

A backs to the wall display best viewed through the cracks of the fingers, the excellence of goalkeeper Allan McGregor was the difference between defeat and humiliation in the end. 

Hearts striker Steven Naismith is barged over in the box to win his side a first-half penalty

Hearts striker Steven Naismith is barged over in the box to win his side a first-half penalty

With the scores at 1-1,  John Souttar received a second booking to put his side under pressure

With the scores at 1-1,  John Souttar received a second booking to put his side under pressure

With the scores at 1-1,  John Souttar received a second booking to put his side under pressure

MATCH FACTS 

ISRAEL: Harush, Ben Harush, Tibi, Yeini, Dasa, D. Peretz, Natcho, Kayal, Twatha, Sahar, Dabbur. Substitutes: Haimov, Kannadli, Glazer, Habashi, Tzedek, Hemed, Einbinder, Micha, Atar, Awwad, Seba, Bitton. Goals: Peretz 52, Tierney (og) 74

SCOTLAND:  McGregor; Souttar, Mulgrew, Tierney; O’Donnell, McGinn, McDonald, McGregor, Robertson; Russell, Naismith. Substitutes: Gordon, McLaughlin Forrest, Hendry, McKenna, Shinnie, Armstrong, McBurnie. Goals: Mulgrew 24 

Referee: Daniel Stefanski (Poland)

A travelling band of 2000 Tartan Arm diehards made their feelings known at the final whistle, catcalls and boos filling the Haifa air. It was hard to find fault with the sentiment.

Intended to create games between evenly matched sides this was a deeply worrying Nations League performance from the Scots.

Reduced to ten men after 66 minutes by two preventable yellow cards for Hearts defender John Souttar, a hideous sliced own goal from Kieran Tierney contrived to make a team ranked 94th in the FIFA rankings look like Brazil, raising further questions of the square pegs in round holes selection policy employed by the manager.

Shapeless and outplayed, the Scots were outthought and outfought by an Israeli team beaten at home by Albania last month. That despite the platform of a 23rd minute penalty opener for Charlie Mulgrew.

Mulgrew missed from the spot against Hungary in Budapest in March.

Undeterred, however, the Blackburn Rovers stepped forward and take on the opportunity created by a needless shove in the back of Steven Naismith by Israel midfielder Dor Peretz. 

Charlie Mulgrew steps up to fire in his third international goal in 40 senior appearances

Charlie Mulgrew steps up to fire in his third international goal in 40 senior appearances

Charlie Mulgrew steps up to fire in his third international goal in 40 senior appearances

From the sidelines in Haifa, Scotland boss Alex McLeish barks instructions at his team

From the sidelines in Haifa, Scotland boss Alex McLeish barks instructions at his team

From the sidelines in Haifa, Scotland boss Alex McLeish barks instructions at his team

Kieran Tierney fills in at left centre-back after McLeish's decision to go for a three-man defence

Kieran Tierney fills in at left centre-back after McLeish's decision to go for a three-man defence

Kieran Tierney fills in at left centre-back after McLeish’s decision to go for a three-man defence

A powerful, emphatic finish allayed any fears of lightning striking twice.

Buoyed by the opening goal Scotland had no need to chase the game. Yet the passiveness of the second half allowed Israel to cut them open with ease.

Time and again, the team in pastel blue were denied by McGregor until Peretz made amends for the concession of a needless penalty by slotting an equaliser in 52 minutes. No one could say the leveller was undeserved. As the first half ended an Israel team chasing their first win under Austran legend Andi Herzog were all the Scots like a cheap suit.

Last week Munas Dabbur, the Red Bull Salzburg striker, terrorised Celtic with two goals in a 3-1 win in the Europa League.

The number nine had the chances to add to Caledonian angst in the first half as the Scots rode their luck. He headed a chance onto the roof of the net. He curled a right foot shot from the edge of the area inches over the bar.

A fizzing first time left foot low shot forced the Rangers keeper into another fine save before half-time. Always likely to be the busier goalkeeper McGregor had already frustrated Israel by pushing away a close range header from the unmarked Bibras Natcho before throwing his cap onto a weak low effort from former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal. 

Former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal proved highly influential for the visitors in their win

Former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal proved highly influential for the visitors in their win

Former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal proved highly influential for the visitors in their win

Aston Villa new boy John McGinn makes the early running in the heart of midfield for Scotland

Aston Villa new boy John McGinn makes the early running in the heart of midfield for Scotland

Aston Villa new boy John McGinn makes the early running in the heart of midfield for Scotland

Allan McGregor can only watch in horror as Dor Peretz stabs home a deserved Israel equaliser 

Allan McGregor can only watch in horror as Dor Peretz stabs home a deserved Israel equaliser 

Allan McGregor can only watch in horror as Dor Peretz stabs home a deserved Israel equaliser 

The Israelis worked up a head of steam before half-time and the biggest let-off came in 40 minutes. Tierney’s clearance ricochetted into the path of Ben Sahar who got the other side of Robertson and thrust his way into the box, poking a low shot against the base of the post.

As an attacking force Scotland’s efforts were largely pitiful until the final minutes when the nerves of the home team created shooting chances for Callum McGregor.

Yet a draw for Scotland would have been a travesty. A miscarriage of justice,

Things began to unravel with the loss of the penalty scorer Mulgrew to injury at half-time. The introduction of Scott McKenna was surely an act of necessity rather than choice.

The effect was to place Scotland under the cosh from the first moments of the second half, cut open at times with alarming ease.

The equaliser quickly became a matter of when rather than if. Israel were crafting so many chances that, by the law of averages, they had to score sometime.

That time came seven minutes into the second period, Peretz making amends for his penalty blunder by claiming a deserved equaliser.

Taleb Twatha tormented Scotland throughout a torrid second half, a weighted pass giving the midfielder the time and space to compose himself before rolling the ball past Tierney low into the net from 10 yards.

For Scotland things were taking an ominous turn. Only the brilliance of McGregor prevented the home team from scoring again swiftly as he parried a thundering Natcho strike from 20 yards.

Hemmed into their own half the visitors could have done without losing a player.

John Souttar was already on a booking from a 27th minute foul when a slack, careless piece of play led to his inevitable departure.

Under pressure from Dabbur an attempt to turn and roll the ball back to McGregor went badly wrong, the striker latching onto the short ball and pressuring the Hearts player into a panicked foul on the edge of the area. A second yellow card was unavoidable and correct. 

Souttar looks dejected after receiving his marching orders on just his third international cap

Souttar looks dejected after receiving his marching orders on just his third international cap

Souttar looks dejected after receiving his marching orders on just his third international cap

Kayal's shot hits Kieran Tierney and flies past McGregor to give Israel a vital lead

Kayal's shot hits Kieran Tierney and flies past McGregor to give Israel a vital lead

Kayal’s shot hits Kieran Tierney and flies past McGregor to give Israel a vital lead

The Celtic full-back looks devastated as Scotland are finally overwhelmed in Haifa

The Celtic full-back looks devastated as Scotland are finally overwhelmed in Haifa

The Celtic full-back looks devastated as Scotland are finally overwhelmed in Haifa

With the scent of blood in their nostrils Israel went for the kill. It took a brilliant McGregor save from Ben Sahar’s header to prevent the loss of a second goal. Seconds later Twatha squandered an outstanding chance when he smashed a low cross against the crossbar from all of six yards.

For the Scots something had to change. Naismith had a rare sniff at goal, hooking a fumbled Johnny Russell cross wide of the post. Russell’s final contribution, Forrest was finally introduced as McLeish reverted to a back four. It did nothing to prevent the flow of traffic in the direction of Scotland’s goal.

Israel’s second goal was a horrible affair, Kayal’s cross sliced horribly past McGregor by Parkhead defender Tierney.

Another act of self implosion on the international stage there was just one saving grace for a rightly irate Tartan Army in the end. Israel stopped at two.

 

 



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