UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifier
Scotland 0-1 Greece
Friday, 15 November, kick-off 7pm
Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
A late injury time penalty ensured a resolute Greece side took all three points in a tight European Qualifier at Tynecastle.
Scotland had dominated the majority of the match and were unfortunate to lose what was a closely fought encounter.
Scotland looked purposeful from the start of the match and controlled most of the opening exchanges. Clear cut chances were at a premium in the first half, the best falling to captain Allan Campbell within the first ten minutes, who could not make it count.
Billy Gilmour picked out the advancing Jamie Brandon with a deft backheel who slid the ball into the path of Campbell just inside the Greece box. However, the Motherwell midfielder couldn’t hit the target and sent his effort narrowly wide of the post.
The midfield trio of Gilmour, Campbell and Ferguson exchanged plenty of neat passes throughout. Gilmour especially looked dangerous whenever he received the ball and he was often the key to unlocking a disciplined Greek defence.
As the half grew so did Scotland’s control of the game but they struggled to break through Greece and convert possession into chances. The above-mentioned Gilmour was afforded a rare yard of space at the edge of the box midway through the half, but he couldn’t keep his rising effort down.
Scotland did have the ball in the back of the net just before half time through the heavily involved Campbell, but the midfielder was judged to have been offside. Stephen Kelly had picked out Campbell who finished well from six yards out. Jordan Holsgrove also went close before the end of the half but like preceding chances couldn’t hit the target with his driven shot.
Greece began the second half with more intensity and forced a good save from Doohan shortly after the restart. The on-loan Ayr United keeper got down quickly to deal with Kampetsis’ strike from 20 yards out which looked destined for the bottom corner. Second half substitute Ioannidis almost broke the deadlock soon after when through on goal but couldn’t find the top corner with his curling effort.
But, just at the visitors looked to have gained a foothold in the game they went down to ten men. Captain Panagiotis Retsos received his second yellow card for a cynical foul on Gilmour who was looking to launch a counter-attack, meaning that the visitors would have to play the remaining 25 minutes a man down.
Scotland began to create more chances as the second half progressed. Fraser Hornby stung the palms of Greece ‘keeper Siampanis with a strike from distance before Glenn Middleton whipped in a dangerous cross that was well defended by the Greece rearguard. The winger forced Siampanis into a fantastic save soon after, the ‘keeper tipping over a dipping left footed shot.
But despite the man advantage, Scotland couldn’t capitalise and Greece won a late penalty after the ball rebounded off the hand of Daniel Harvie. Dimitris Nikolaou stepped up and slotted home to seal the points for his side.
Next up for Scot Gemmill’s side is a crucial double header against Croatia and Greece in March.
Scotland: Doohan, Harvie, Maguire, Johnston, Campbell, Kelly (Middleton, 70’), Gilmour, Hornby, Holsgrove (McLennan, 85’), Ferguson, Brandon
Subs not used: Wright, McCrorie, Reading, Smith, Campbell, Scott, Henderson
Greece: Siampanis, Natsos, Katranis, Nikolaou, Evangelou, Retsos, Ntaviotis, Balogiannis (Oikonomidis, 29’), Kampetsis (Ioannidis, 53’), Bouzoukis (Diamantis, 75’), Papanikolaou
Subs not used: Stergiakis, Michailidis, Lyratzis, Botos, Emmanouilidis, Lymperakis