Israel draw keeps Wales waiting to qualify for Euro 2016
Wales remain on the cusp of qualification for Euro 2016 and a first major tournament for 56 years after drawing 0-0 at home to Israel.
This results leaves the Dragons five points clear in an automatic place with a maximum of six on offer. If Belgium fail to beat Cyprus, then reaching the France finals next summer will be confirmed.
Chris Coleman resisted the temptation to tinker with his starting XI, despite defensive midfielder David Vaughan’s late call-up and centre back James Chester proving his fitness.
Hal Robson-Kanu, playing up front for his country, was heavily involved in early Wales chances, first crossing to find Aaron Ramsey, whose shot was blocked behind.
Reading man Robson-Kanu then shot wide himself before finding Andy King with a slide-rule pass, but the Leicester City midfielder drew a stop from Orif Marciano when one-on-one. Ramsey then nodded the rebound over.
Robson-Kanu came close again, but clear-cut openings were few and far between after 20 minutes. Israel, who showed little endeavour of their own by matching their hosts with three at the back, brought on Brighton and Hove Albion striker Tomer Hemed at half-time.
Penalty appeals 10 minutes into the second half when Robson-Kanu was felled resulted in a free-kick being awarded to Wales on the edge of the box. Handball shouts later fell on deaf ears.
King’s header went straight at Marciano as frustration mounted in Cardiff with Dave Edwards’ deflected effort from a corner also saved.
Wayne Hennessey, a virtual spectator at the other end, was forced into action late on by Hemed’s stooping header when he got across his man and onto a cross from fellow substitute Tal Ben Haim II.
Gareth Bale’s strike late on forced Marciano to parry, but Israel’s defence cleared their lines. Home fans were off their seats at the death when the Real Madrid forward flicked on to sub Simon Church, but a rightly raised flag ruled out a last-gasp winner.
Wales’ destiny remains in their own hands, however, and an easy ens to qualification at home to Andorra should see them through no matter what they do away to Bosnia and Herzegovina next.