Israel’s national soccer team defeated Moldova 2-1 at home on Tuesday night, and striker Eran Zahavi scored a record-breaking 33rd goal in national colors, but the victory could not revive Israel’s World Cup hopes.
That was because Scotland snatched a 1-0 win away to the Faroe Islands in the 86th minute, to remain 4 points clear of Israel in qualifying Group F, with only two more games to come.
Zahavi put Israel ahead in the 28th minute at Beersheba’s Turner Stadium, and celebrated beating Mordechai Spiegler’s national goal tally by raising one arm to the sky — emulating Spiegler’s celebration when he scored for Israel in the 1970 World Cup.
Early in the second half, Zahavi made Israel’s second goal, for Munas Dabbur, before Moldova’s Ion Nicolaescu scored a late consolation goal.
The win lifted Israel to 13 points in Group F.
But Scotland, which defeated Israel with a late winner in a 3-2 victory in Glasgow on Saturday, again notched a goal near the end of its match, against the Faroe Islands, courtesy of striker Lyndon Dykes.
Scotland now has 17 points, and is solidly in second place in the group, heading for a playoff match that could see it win a spot in next year’s World Cup finals. Group leader Denmark qualified for the finals in Qatar with a 1-0 win over Austria, lifting it to 24 points.
The Group F teams play their final two qualifying games on November 12 and 15. Israel is away to Austria and then at home to the Faroe Islands; Scotland is away to Moldova and home to Denmark.
Barring upsets, Scotland is set to finish second in Group F when all the qualifying games are over, and will win a playoff spot and a shot at reaching the World Cup; Israel will be eliminated. Scotland has not made it since 1998, while Israel has not qualified since 1970.
Denmark became the second European team to qualify for next year’s World Cup and maintained its perfect record in its group. Joakim Maehle’s 53rd-minute goal at Parken Stadium secured an eighth straight qualifying win for the Danes, who have yet to concede in Group F and have the only 100% record.
Germany was the first team to reach the 2022 tournament in Qatar via qualifying, sealing first place in its group on Monday.
Denmark came into World Cup qualifying without star midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is recovering from collapsing during the European Championship after suffering cardiac arrest, but as one of the best teams on the continent having still reached the semifinals at Euro 2020.