Scotland’s 2020 Nations League campaign got off to a sputtering start with a 1-1 draw against Israel.
At an empty Hampden Park, Scotland had led after a first-half penalty from Ryan Christie.
But their hopes of three points to start the group were dashed by Eran Zahavi’s equaliser on 73 minutes.
Scotland looked comfortable enough for long periods but could not put the game to bed, settling for a point ahead of a trip to the Czech Republic on Monday.
Steve Clarke handed Lyndon Dykes his senior debut after the striker declared his eligibility for Scotland, while Kieran Tierney started alongside Scott McKenna and Scott McTominay in a back three.
Scotland had not played a competitive international since November 2019 and it was the first time under Clarke they had played a back three, which allowed him to accommodate Tierney in the left-sided centre-back role he has been playing at Arsenal.
Aside from a couple of half-chances from crosses, the first half was a low-energy affair with little intensity or clear-cut chances. Dykes’ hold-up play brought John McGinn and Christie into the game around him but the QPR striker often found himself playing with his back to goal.
The home side had a strong shout for a spot-kick on 28 minutes when McGinn, trying to weave his way through bodies in the penalty area, was barged over by Taleb Tawatha. However, referee Slavko Vincic gave the foul the other away for a tumbling McGinn falling into an Israel defender.
David Marshall kept Scotland level with a smart stop three minutes before the break, parrying Munas Dabbur’s header from Eli Dasa’s cross, before the hosts got themselves in front.
Dykes headed down Christie’s corner towards McGinn, who was then caught by Eytan Tibi and Vincic this time gave a spot-kick. Christie collected the ball and calmly put Scotland in front, beating Marciano from 12 yards.
Israel were held at arms’ length for large swathes of the second half, with Scotland able to mass blue shirts back behind the ball during periods without possession.
Going forward they were still searching for some sort of rhythm but the performance of Dykes stood out, as he showed a good understanding with the two behind to link quickly and move the ball on.
After offering little Israel were given a route back into the game by the prolific Zahavi with 17 minutes to go, as he played a one-two with Dabbur and crashed beyond Marshall.
Aside from a hopeful cross by Christie, which was clung on to by Ofir Marciano in the Israel goal, no opportunity arose for Scotland to emerge with more than a point.