Israel’s hopes of advancing to the UEFA European Championships in 2020 took a huge hit after losing to Scotland 3:2 on a hat trick by James Forrest in their final Nations League Group 1 League C contest. The Celtic marksman was all over the pitch for the host’s and helped earn first place in the group for his country and an automatic Playoff Round berth to be played in March 2020. The blue-and-white will now enter the standard qualification tournament which will begin in early 2019 for a chance to feature in the prestigious Euro competition.
Head Coach Andi Herzog started the same lineup that defeated Guatemala 7:0 last Thursday in the hope that the scoring barrage would continue and that’s exactly what happened in the 9th minute. Beram Kayal dribbled into a fantastic spot right outside of the box, unleashed a long range scorcher that just dipped over Scotland keeper Allan McGregor and into the far corner of the goal for an early 1:0 lead. Israel keeper Ariel Harush began to face tremendous pressure from the host’s and made a terrific save in the 22nd minute when he just got his hand on a Callum McGregor chance and sent the ball out for a corner.
However, in the 34th minute Israel would not be as lucky when Forrest finished off a ball in the area and sent a right footed shot behind Harush to draw Scotland even at 1:1. With Alex McLeish’s side playing with momentum, Forrest finished off a quick Scotland counter in the 43rd minute to give the Hampden Park faithful a 2:1 advantage heading into the break.
Israel fell behind by two goals in the 64th minute when Forrest completed his hat trick, beating Harush once again giving Scotland a 3:1 lead. But the blue-and-white still had fight left in them when Eran Zahavi hammered home a 75th minute beauty to cut the lead to 3:2 with a quarter hour left of action. Herzog looked for any help he could get and sent on striker Tomer Hemed who was not 100% fit for the contest in the 85th minute as he searched for the equalizer that would give Israel a ticket to the Playoff Round. However, it was not to be as the host’s withstood Israel’s last gasp effort.