Scotland rallied from a miserable first half display to earn a share of the spoils against Israel in their World Cup qualifier.
It was a tale of two halves for Steve Clarke’s side who rallied from a desperate opening 45 minutes to claim a point thanks to Newcastle United attacker Ryan Fraser’s equaliser.
The point suited Clarke’s men more than their hosts, who have one point to show from their opening two matches but it is already looking ominous for1 the chasing pack in Group F with Denmark’s 8-0 demolition of Moldova ensuring they are the only team boasting a 100% record after two matches.
Wednesday’s return to Hampden for the visit of the Faroe Islands is a must-win even at this early stage and it seems the September 1 meeting of the group leading Danes and the Scots at the National Stadium is going to be pivotal.
Israel’s defeat to Denmark on Thursday added to their need to bounce back and it showed in their quick start at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv.
Manor Solomon was first to threaten with a 20 yard strike which flew past David Marshall’s right post and the scare sparked the visitors into a response and Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay should have done better than direct his free header from Andy Robertson’s corner wide.
But McTominay’s wayward header was a rare moment in the Israel penalty area and it was the hosts who asked questions of the Scottish defence.
It was clear the home side was operating a shoot on sight policy and Marshall was called into action to block a Solomon effort before Ofri Arad fired in another long range effort which had Marshall scrambling across goal.
Israel were direct and played at a tempo against a subdued and almost cautious Scotland side. The decision to let the home side have time in midfield was a dangerous one and Eytan Tibi dictated the play.
Marshall was called into action again to save Shon Weissman’s header from Bibras Natcho’s cross but there was nothing he could do to prevent the home side from deservedly taking the lead just before the break.
Dor Peretz was the man who got it and what a strike it was as the midfielder collected the ball 25 yards from goal before beating Marshall. As impressive as Peretz’s effort was Marshall could have done better.
More worryingly for Scotland, who had been abject, it was no less than Israel deserved following a dominant 45 minute display.
Something had to change and Clarke decided it was the system which needed to be tweaked. A switch to a back four was made and Jack Hendry made way for Ryan Christie.
The change brought some much needed urgency to the side and it took Scotland just 11 minutes to restore parity.
John McGinn played the ball to Che Adams who found Ryan Fraser in space and the former Aberdeen winger took a touch on the edge of the box before firing low Ofir Marciano.
The difference from the first half was staggering and buoyed by their equaliser the visitors piled on the pressure looking for a second goal.
Hibernian goalkeeper Marciano was called into action twice, firstly to deny Adams from 14 yards and then Kieran Tierney’s powerful 35 yard low drive.
It was not one-way traffic, however, and Israel still showed they were a threat when Eli Dasa’s cross found Sun Menachem at the back post but he headed into the side netting.
But it was Scotland who carried the greater threat in a much improved second half showing and when Robertson cut the ball back to McTominay on the edge of the box it looked like Scotland would take the lead but the midfielder sidefooted the ball and it was blocked by an Israel defender.
Despite late pressure from Scotland they could not find the winner they craved and for the second game running Clarke’s men have had to dig deep and come from behind to get something from a game.
They did it twice against Austria on Thursday and had to do so again in Tel Aviv.
While the character has been a welcome sight, clearly avoiding a situation where they are giving themselves so much work to do would be far better.
After two games Scotland already have their work cut out in their quest to reach Qatar.