Draw edges Wales closer to Euro 2016 qualification

Gareth Bale couldn't find a way past the Israel defence
Gareth Bale couldn't find a way past the Israel defence


Wales failed to get the win needed to book their place at Euro 2016 next summer as Israel held them to a goalless draw in Cardiff.

But Wales can still end a near 60-year wait to play at a major tournament on Sunday night if Cyprus were to beat Belgium in Nicosia.

Wales dominated Israel throughout but could not get the goal to take them through to France as Gareth Bale drew a blank for once, with Andy King going closest to breaking the deadlock on two occasions.

Wales named an unchanged side for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Israel at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Chris Coleman had hinted he might hand David Vaughan a starting role in midfield but the Wales manager chose to keep the same side which had beaten Cyprus 1-0 in the boiling Nicosia heat to move within three points of qualifying for the finals in France next summer.

Israel made three changes from the side which beat Andorra 4-0 on Thursday night to keep alive their hopes of qualification, Beram Kayal, Orel Dagani and Omri Ben Harush replacing Tomer Hemed, Tal Ben Haim junior and Avi Rikan.

Wales were 1/1000 on with some bookmakers to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals after winning 1-0 in Cyprus on Thursday night, but there was still an air of tension among the supporters after so many near misses in the past.

Wales piled on the pressure from the first minute, Aaron Ramsey's second-minute header cut out by Orel Dgani and then Hal Robson-Kanu flashing a shot wide.

Andy King was sent scampering through by Robson-Kanu's clever pass after eight minutes, but goalkeeper Ofir Marciano stood tall to save with his legs and Ramsey headed the rebound over.

Robson-Kanu was more prominent in the early stages than his strike partner Gareth Bale and the Reading forward brought another save out of Marciano, who had been booked for time-wasting.

Israel were showing signs of weathering the Welsh storm but the game was still being played almost entirely in the visitors' half.

Wales' build-up was patient, trying to pull their opponents from side to side, but they could not get their main man Bale into the sort of dangerous positions he profited twice from during their 3-0 win in Israel in March.

Bale was dropping deeper to try to influence matters but misplaced Welsh passes allowed Israel to gain a foothold in the game for the first time.

Eran Zahavi and Munas Dubbar were willing front-runners who were occupying Wales' three-man defence and the early sparkle had disappeared from the hosts' game.

The crowd was lifted when Neil Taylor won a corner just before half-time but Robson-Kanu was penalised for a spot of pushing just when he seem well placed to connect with a header.

Israel briefly threatened when Dubbar broke beyond Wales captain Ashley Williams but Chris Gunter showed good positional sense to clear the danger.

Israel made two changes at the break with the introduction of Tal Ben Haim II and Tomer Hemed for Kayal and Dabbur suggesting a more adventurous approach from the visitors.

They were certainly enjoying greater ball possession but Jazz Richards, just as he had done in Cyprus for Bale's winner, swung over a cross which Robson-Kanu failed to keep down.

Almost instantly Bale had green grass to run into for the first time but he fired over and the Real Madrid star was clutching his face after a clash of heads with Israel midfielder Nir Bitton.

But Bale was soon back on his feet and standing over a free-kick, 18 yards out and central, after Dgani had taken out Robson-Kanu from Ramsey's pass.

Bale's effort was too high to trouble Marciano but Wales were raising the tempo again and the Israel goalkeeper was grateful to clutch King's powerful header on his line.

Wales were screaming for a penalty when Bale's cross struck Eytan Tibi on the arm and they almost took the lead seconds later when Marciano just about kept out David Edwards' near-post shot.

Israel briefly broke the stranglehold on them when Bibras Natcho advanced but his effort was well wide of the target.

Wales almost profited from some defensive confusion, but King was unable to reach a loose ball with Marciano stranded off his line.

Bale looked as if he had a calf injury and it appeared as if he might not be able to finish the game but it was Robson-Kanu who made way for Simon Church with 11 minutes remaining.

Israel had hardly been an attacking force of any description but seven minutes from time Ben Haim junior broke down the right and crossed.

Hemed was unmarked in the middle to send his stooping header goalwards and Wayne Hennessey made a comfortable first save when he palmed the ball over.

An exhausted Bale went close twice late on and Church had the ball in the net in the dying seconds, but he was rightfully deemed offside.