Scotland should count their blessings as they leave the Holy Land because this defeat could have been so much worse.
They were outplayed by the Israelis, who will now fancy themselves in this Nations League Group C-1 after this easy 2-1 victory.
The Scots, of course, had made a flying start in football’s newest international competition, which has as its prize a possible place at Euro 2020.
They beat Albania 2-0 at Hampden last month and knew victory in Haifa would put them in a commanding position. However, it all went horribly wrong in the Sammy Ofer Stadium.
Charlie Mulgrew’s 25th-minute penalty earned the shaky Scots an unlikely half-time lead.
However, Dor Peretz’s equaliser, a fine finish in off the post on 52 minutes, was the least the Israelis deserved.
The visitors went down to 10 men when John Souttar was sent off on 61 minutes and they were really up against it.
Israel deserved a second and they got it on 74 minutes when Kieran Tierney sliced the ball into his own net and it was game over.
Scotland had been without striker Leigh Griffiths, who was at home “working on his fitness.” Ryan Fraser was also posted missing due to unspecified injury.
It was an unsettling build-up to the trip so it was perhaps understandable that manager Alex McLeish, craving stability, stood by the men who started the last game against Albania. That meant there was no room in the side for Celtic’s James Forrest despite banging four goals past St Johnstone.
Former Dundee United trio Andy Robertson, Johnny Russell and Souttar kept their places, as did ex-Dundee man Kevin McDonald. Aberdeen pair Scott McKenna and Graeme Shinnie joined Forrest on the bench.
The game kicked off following a false start and the Scots were almost caught out by a header from Munas Dabbur on eight minutes.
A move involving McDonald, Steven Naismith and Callum McGregor almost paid off but the Celtic man watched the ball run away from him.
They needed keeper Allan McGregor to keep them level on 20 minutes, though, with the Rangers number one saving when Peretz’s header deflected off Naismith’s shoulder.
Peretz was involved again but this time he was in his own box to barge into Naismith and gift the visitors a penalty. Mulgrew stepped up to hammer the ball into the net to make it 1-0 after 25 minutes.
The hosts tried to hit back and Dabbur, who scored twice against Celtic for RB Salzburg in the Europa League, flicked a header past the far post on 31 minutes, Ben Sahar ballooned a shot over then Dabbur curled another strike over.
Israel were dominating and Sahar struck the base of the post after somehow wriggling clear inside the box.
McGregor then rode to the rescue when he beat away a volley from Dabbur and it was a lucky Scotland that went inside a goal up.
Dons defender McKenna came on after the interval for the injured Mulgrew but unfortunately, the second half started much as the first ended – with Israel on the attack.
They got the equaliser they deserved on 52 minutes when Taleb Twatha threaded a neat pass forward to Peretz. He tied Robertson in a knot before clipping a clever shot in off the post.
Scotland were all over the place now and McGregor had to bat away a decent strike from Bibras Natcho.
They then lost Souttar to a red card on 61 minutes when he pulled back Dabbur on the edge of the box. It was maybe a tad harsh on the Hearts defender, who had already been booked on 28 minutes for persistent fouling.
Naismith hooked the ball wide as the visitors tried to hit back but it was all Israel.
They had a flurry of attacks, the pick of the bunch being when Twatha somehow smacked a shot off the bar from inside the six-yard box.
With Forrest now on for Russell, the sorry Scots caved in on 74 minutes.
It was an own goal from Tierney, who hacked a cross from Kayal into his own net. Even McGregor couldn’t reach that one.
McGregor stopped Seba from making it three late on minutes and the final whistle was greeted with a sigh of relief by the 2,000-strong Tartan Army.
Israel: Harush, Dasa, Natcho, Kayal (Einbinder 82), Peretz, Dabbur, Yeini, Twatha (Atar 75), Sahar (Seba 46) Ben Harush, Tibi. Subs not used: Haimov, Kannadli, Glazer, Habashi, Rzedek, Hemed, Micha, Awwad, Bitton.
Scotland: McGregor, O’Donnell, Robertson, Souttar, Mulgrew (McKenna 46), Tierney, McGinn, McDonald, Naismith (McBurnie 75), McGregor, Russell (Forrest 67). Subs not used: Gordon, McLaughlin, Hendry, Shinnie, Armstrong.
Referee: Daniel Stefanski (Poland).