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Scotland defeats Israel 3-2 in crucial World Cup qualifier

Israel twice held the lead, but went down to a goal in stoppage time that shatters its World Cup hopes

Scotland players celebrate after wining the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F qualification football match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park in Glasgow on october 9, 2021. (ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)
Scotland players celebrate after wining the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F qualification football match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park in Glasgow on october 9, 2021. (ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Israel’s national soccer team was defeated by Scotland, 3-2, in the final minutes of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier in Glasgow, shattering its hopes of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Manchester United’s Scott McTominay scored the decisive goal at close range from a corner in the 94th minute.

The two teams were battling each other for second place in their group, which guarantees a playoff spot for the finals. Scotland’s win, in a hard-fought, breathless encounter, cements its place with 14 points, while Israel is stuck on 10 and in third place overall.

Eran Zahavi gave Israel the early lead with a free-kick from outside the penalty box on five minutes after being fouled.

John McGinn equalized after 29 minutes, but Israel again took the lead almost immediately with Munas Dabbur slotting home after an Israeli free-kick ricocheted around the book.

Shortly before half-time, Scotland had the chance to equalize with a penalty after a foul narrowly judged to be just inside the penalty area.

Israel’s Manor Solomon shields the ball from Scotland’s Scott McTominay during the World Cup 2022 group F qualifying soccer match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, on Saturday, October 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

But goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, who had apparently done some homework on Lyndon Dykes’ penalties, stayed in the center of the goal and was able to kick Dykes’ shot to safety.

Israel’s Eran Zahavi (unseen) hits his team’s opening goal past Scotland’s goalkeeper Craig Gordon from a free-kick during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F qualification football match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park in Glasgow, on October 9, 2021. (Andy Buchanan/AFP)

After 57 minutes, Scotland did equalize, with a Dykes volley. Initially ruled out for dangerous play, the goal was allowed after a VAR review.

Scotland midfielder John McGinn (7) celebrates with teammates after equalizing during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F qualification football match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park in Glasgow, on October 9, 2021. (Andy Buchanan/AFP)

Marciano kept Israel in the game with a series of fine saves as Scotland dominated the second half and, urged on by the home crowd, sought a winning goal.

Three minutes into stoppage time, the home side found the breakthrough when McTominay forced home at the back post from a corner. Israel could find no way back in the game’s dying seconds.

Scotland’s Scott McTominay waves to the crowd as his team celebrate after defeating Israel in their World Cup 2022 group F qualifying soccer match at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Scotland won the game 3-2. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

Denmark leads the group with 221 points and is guaranteed a place in Qatar; it thrashed Moldova 4-0 later Saturday.

Israel hosts Molodova on October 12, when Scotland takes on minnows the Faroe Islands. The Group F teams then play their final two qualifying games on November 12 and 15.

The game was a make-or-break moment for Israel.

In September, the Danes beat Israel 5-0, hurting the latter’s prospects of moving forward. For Israel, it was an abrupt return to reality after the euphoria of a 5-2 win against Austria.

If it finishes second in Group F when all the qualifying games are over, Scotland 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.

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