Etey Shechter's goal secured a share of the spoils for Israel at home against Azerbaijan, but their chances of reaching the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals from Group F are looking increasingly slender.
Rahid Amirguliyev's 61st-minute effort put Azerbaijan in front, yet while the Azerbaijani lead lasted for just 12 minutes, a point was not the return Eli Guttman's side would have hoped for. Israel now lie three points adrift of second-ranked Russia, their opponents in St Petersburg on Tuesday night.
With frontrunners Portugal and Russia both winning on Friday, Israel knew they needed victory to keep up the pace. However, for all that they appeared the better team for much of the game in Ramat Gan, they were not to trouble their visitors much. Perhaps tellingly, the only player who managed to unsettle Kamran Agayev in the Azerbaijan goal was defender Eytan Tibi, who hit the woodwork in the 19th minute and came close again before the break.
It was a shock none the less when Azerbaijan went ahead, Amirguliyev's shot from distance beating Dudu Aouate. The goal spurred Israel forward, with debutant Ofir Davidzada delivering the ball for the unmarked Shechter to strike back. Even so, the winner that Israel wanted so badly would not be forthcoming.