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Stubborn Israel keep Wales waiting

Wales 0-0 Israel
A draw means Chris Coleman's side are guaranteed at least a play-off place – but the chance to qualify went begging in Group B.

Highlights: Wales 0-0 Israel
  • Wales frustrated in front of expectant Cardiff crowd
  • Point will keep Wales above Belgium going into October's final round of qualifiers
  • Wales are also now guaranteed a play-off place
  • Five-man Israel defence effectively neutralises Gareth Bale
  • Next games: Bosnia and Herzegovina v Wales, Israel v Cyprus (10 October)

Wales have waited over half a century to qualify for a major tournament and the wait will go on for a while longer after Chris Coleman's men were frustrated by Israel in a goalless draw in Cardiff.

After winning in Cyprus on Thursday, Group B leaders Wales came into the game hoping to make history by sealing their ticket to UEFA EURO 2016, yet instead had to settle for a point which leaves the prize still dangling with matches against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Andorra to come next month.

'Together Stronger' is the Wales team motto for this campaign and this sense of unity came across more forcefully than ever in a stirring rendition of the Welsh anthem, Land Of Our Fathers, before kick-off. With the reward of qualification so tantalisingly close, Wales began like a side possessed, giving their opponents no time to dwell on the ball and pressing relentlessly.

Aaron Ramsey had a couple of early shots blocked and by the eighth minute, Wales should have had a goal. Ashley Richards won the ball inside Israeli territory on the right and Hal Robson-Kanu sent Andy King running clear into the box. His shot lacked conviction, however, and goalkeeper Ofir Marciano was equal to it, with Ramsey heading over on the rebound.

Chris Coleman gives his side instructions
Chris Coleman gives his side instructions©Getty Images

By the 20-minute mark, Wales had already forced five corners and it was a measure of their high-tempo start that even before then referee Ivan Bebek had had words with Marciano for delaying a goal kick. Israel, who began the day two points behind second-placed Belgium, were set up to frustrate Wales with a five-man defence and three sitting midfielders and after surviving the early storm, they succeeded in their task. 

Israel coach Eli Gutman made two changes at half-time, Tal Ben Haim II coming on for Beram Kayal and Tomer Hemed replacing No9 Munas Dabbur, yet still it was Israel's defence working harder. It was telling, though, that Wales' best chances came from set pieces, Gareth Bale lifting a free-kick over from the edge of the box and King directing a header straight at Marciano from a corner.

At the other end it was not until the 82nd minute that Hemed finally forced a save from Wayne Hennessey with a late header. Even so, Wales very nearly had the last laugh, Simon Church having a goal ruled out for offside in added time.