Israel scored an 88th-minute equaliser to grab a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their European Championship qualifier in neutral Hungary on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of reaching next year’s finals in Germany.
The Swiss were within two minutes of booking their berth at the finals, but Shon Weissman‘s opportunistic late goal means they must now beat Kosovo at the weekend to ensure their place at the tournament.
The unbeaten Swiss moved top of Group I, with 16 points from eight matches, but only ahead of Romania on goal difference. Israel are third on 12 points with all three countries having two games left.
Weisman’s equaliser came after Fernandes failed to clear and the Swiss fullback’s woes were compounded when he was sent off in stoppage time for a clumsy foul.
Vargas came within inches of doubling his tally five minutes after his goal when he thundered a shot off the crossbar.
Israel, who looked much stronger after the break, might have equalised early in the second half when Dor Turgeman’s cross found Anan Khalaili but his header bounced back off the bar.
Turgeman also went close with an audacious long-range effort, from inside his own half, that forced Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer to scramble back and tip the ball over the bar.
The match was due to be played last month, but was postponed because of the security situation in Israel following the war with the Palestinian group Hamas.
As a result, Israel play four games in the space of nine days to complete their qualifying campaign. They lost 1-0 in Kosovo on Sunday and next meet Romania at the Puskas Academy Arena, on the outskirts of Budapest, on Saturday. Their last game is in Andorra next Tuesday.
The Swiss face Kosovo in Basel on Saturday and then complete their campaign away in Romania on Tuesday.