Israel 2-1 Scotland: Was Haifa humiliation the worst 90 minutes as a Scotland fan?


Kieran Tierney hides his face after his own goal gave Israel the lead

Manager Alex McLeish conceded that Scotland bruising 2-1 Nations League defeat in Israel could have been worse.

And former centre-back partner and Scotland defender Willie Miller described it as “unacceptable” and as bad a performance as you’ll see from a Scotland team. But was it?

BBC Scotland has trawled through a list of horror shows and humiliations since the national team last qualified for a tournament in 1998.

Some are unforgettable. Others may well have been erased from the memory in an act of self-protection. But you can relive them here and vote for the worst 90 minutes as a Scotland fan.

Wales 4-0 Scotland (18 Feb, 2004) & Wales 3-0 Scotland (14 Nov, 2009)

These two trips to Cardiff merge into the one mass of horror.

In 2004, a rampant Wales side ripped Berti Vogts’ Scots apart in front of 47,000 at the Millenium Stadium. Robert Earnshaw scored the first of his hat-trick within 60 seconds.

And a change of venue didn’t improve matters much five years later. The Cardiff City Stadium hosted another humiliation as David Edwards, Simon Church and a young starlet called Aaron Ramsey inflicted a fourth consecutive away defeat on George Burley and ultimately cost him his job.

George Burley was sacked five days after the 2009 defeat in Cardiff

Scotland 0-3 Hungary (18 Aug, 2004)

Perhaps surprisingly, the only home game to make it our shortlist. Maybe Hampden isn’t a jinx after all…

But this, the Scots’ seventh friendly defeat on the bounce, was brutal. A penalty, a 30-yard screamer, and Steven Pressley skelping the ball off David Marshall and into his own net was the long and short of it.

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Only 16,000 were at Hampden to witness this horror show, played out by a Berti Vogts team including the likes of Darren Fletcher, Barry Ferguson and James McFadden.

It might only have been a friendly, but the performance, the fact it was at home, and the general malaise that followed means this merits a place on the list.

Berti Vogts and Tommy Burns can hardly contain their excitement

Norway 4-0 Scotland (12 Aug, 2009)

Another campaign, another cock up.

Various factors get Burley’s Scotland another entry in our chamber of horrors – the result, the fact it was a World Cup qualifier, and the fact it was against Norway. No offence…

The Scots had the Caldwell brothers at centre-half, but they were made to look like the Mitchell brothers by the time Egil Olsen and his team were done with them.

Brother number one (Gary) was sent off after just 33 minutes. Perhaps a lucky escape he wasn’t there to see John Arne Riise, Morten Gamst Pederson (2) and Erik Huseklepp pile on the misery.

With just two games of the campaign remaining, Norway went on to finish second in the group ahead of Scotland on goal difference.

Gary Caldwell is dismissed in Norway

Czech Rep 1-0 Scotland (8 Oct, 2010)

To the untrained eye, there is nothing remarkable about this result. But the defeat was a landmark moment in Craig Levein’s Scotland tenure.

This was the night Scotland played an expansive 4-6-0 formation in Prague, and got exactly what you would expect from a team fielding nobody in attack.

Former Scotland striker John Robertson professed afterwards that his one-time Hearts team-mate “will get some stick”.

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Not half, John. Not half.

Craig Levein and Peter Houston explain the 4-6-0 formation to striker Kenny Miller

USA 5-1 Scotland (26 May, 2012)

A dark, grey cloud hung over this Scotland showing in the sunshine state.

Landon Donovan claimed a hat-trick in Jacksonville against Levein’s beleaguered Scots, whose goal came when Geoff Cameron turned the ball into his own net in front of a record crowd.

At the time, 19 places separated the sides in the Fifa rankings, which pales in comparison to the chasm which divides the Scots and conquerors Israel.

At least someone enjoyed the game

Israel 2-1 Scotland (11 Oct, 2018)

And here we are.

Perhaps in future we will all laugh about the night Scotland lost 2-1 in Israel. Maybe it will be considered in the same bracket as holding a Fraser Aird-inspired Canada at Easter Road or desperately clawing out a 2-2 draw in the Faroe Islands. Oh, how we laughed.

Or maybe not. Scotland’s defeat to the team ranked 94th in world was narrow only in terms of the scoreline. Even McLeish conceded it could have been more. Chuck in John Souttar’s red card, and it all made for a pretty miserable night for the manager in the “roasting” heat of Haifa.

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