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Clarke calls on goal-shy Scotland to be more clinical

Netanya (Israel) (AFP) – Steve Clarke admitted Scotland have to start scoring goals to ensure the progress he has made as national team boss does not stall after a 1-0 defeat in Israel on Wednesday.

A week on from reaching a first major international tournament since 1998 by qualifying for Euro 2020, Scotland blew the chance to gain promotion to the top tier of the Nations League and potentially a playoff for the 2022 World Cup.

The two best Nations League group winners who fail to qualify automatically will earn a playoff place for Qatar.

But back-to-back 1-0 defeats after also losing in Slovakia on Sunday, allowed the Czech Republic to leapfrog Scotland and claim top spot in Group B2.

Scotland had 33 attempts on goal over the past two games without finding the net.

“There was no lack of endeavour, just a lack of quality in the final third,” said Clarke. “We made chances and couldn’t get the goal.

“We just had a quick chat about that in the dressing room. If we want to keep improving and getting better and taking the national team forward, we have to be more clinical and make better choices in the final third.

“In a year we’ve come a long way, we shouldn’t forget that. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

Israel were beaten on penalties at Hampden Park in the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final last month after neither side could score in 120 minutes.

But they produced the one clear moment of quality in front of goal when Manor Solomon turned Scott McTominay with ease before firing across David Marshall into the far corner just before half-time.

Israel goalkeeper Ofir Marciano plays his club football in Scotland with Hibs and played his part in a frustrating night for Clarke’s men.

Marciano produced a brilliant stop from John McGinn’s header in the first-half and denied Stephen O’Donnell and substitute Leigh Griffiths’s fierce free-kick in stoppage time to ensure Israel avoided relegation to League C.

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