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Israel 2 Scotland 1: McLeish’s 10 men cough up first-half lead

Alex McLeish - cropped Scotland manager Alex McLeish. (source: Getty Images)

Israel breathed life into their Nations League campaign with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over 10-man Scotland in Haifa on Thursday.

Dor Peretz and a Kieran Tierney own goal gave the home side a precious first victory in five matches that leaves all three teams level on three points in Group 1 of League C.

The match-turning moments came either side of John Souttar’s sending off for a second yellow as Alex McLeish was forced to endure a fifth defeat in seven since returning to Scotland’s top job in February.

Scotland had gone ahead through Charlie Mulgrew’s 25th-minute penalty, but they were second best for almost the entire contest and can have few complaints after squandering a chance to close in on promotion to the second tier.

The visitors almost fell behind for the first time when Peretz’s header deflected off Steven Naismith and drew a reaction save from Allan McGregor.

Frustrated at one end, midfielder Peretz was foolish at the other as his clumsy challenge on Naismith enabled Mulgrew to send Ariel Harush the wrong way from the spot.

McGregor was worked twice more as the half wore on and had his near post to thank for keeping out a close-range Ben Sahar shot.

Israel began the second half as they ended the first and were deservedly level seven minutes after the restart, Peretz atoning for his earlier error by capping off Taleb Tawatha’s incisive dribble and pass.

Scotland’s problems grew with Souttar’s dismissal for a second bookable offence just after the hour, although they were given a let-off as Tawatha inexplicably turned Eli Dasa’s cross against the bar at point-blank range.

But the intense pressure eventually told in the shape of a seemingly inevitable Israel winner in the 74th minute, Tierney slicing Beram Kayal’s dipping delivery into his own net.

 

What it means: Promotion race wide open

Scotland’s inability to build on last month’s encouraging defeat of Albania means promotion to League B remains very much up for grabs. Israel will soar from bottom to top in the space of four days if they beat Albania, who will themselves fancy taking charge of a group that is in dispute.

McGregor stands tall

Now 36, experienced goalkeeper McGregor appears to be getting better with age. Rangers’ number one deserved better for stringing together several fine saves in a vintage display that meant Scotland were in the contest longer than they should have been.

Souttar scuppers Scotland chances

Scotland looked unlikely to snatch a result with 11 men, let alone 10. Souttar’s twin cards, while not exactly egregious, were certainly avoidable, and bore the hallmarks of a young defender that will learn extreme care is required at international level.

Key Opta facts

– Scotland have lost three consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time since October 2012.
– Israel recorded their first ever victory over Scotland, having lost each of the previous three.
– This was Scotland’s first defeat in a competitive fixture since losing 3-0 against England in November 2016.

What’s next?

Israel will attempt to make it two Nations League wins on the trot at home to Albania on Sunday, as Scotland host Portugal in a friendly at Hampden Park.

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