SCOT GEMMILL admits his Scotland under-21 side learned a painful lesson as they crashed to a stoppage-time penalty against Greece.

The Scots were hoping to breathe fresh impetus into their European Championship bid following back-to-back blanks against Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

But for the third game running they failed to find the net, even though the visitors to Tynecastle played out the final 27 minutes a man down after seeing Bayer Leverkusen youngster Panagiotis Retsos dismissed for two crude challenges on Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour.

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The late sucker-punch came when Dimitris Nikolaou tucked home his spot-kick to seal a 1-0 win for the Greeks after Ayr defender Daniel Harvie handled in the box.

Gemmill - who has this week had to contend with a raft of injury call-offs - said: "Of course it's never nice to concede a late penalty to 10 men in that manner. But I think we have to keep everything in context.

"A lot of different things have happened and occurred in the game.

"But there was a dominant performance first half when we must have had 60 per cent possession. There was a swing second half and they started really well.

"When the red card occurs we should have done more and speaking to the players they have to take that away.

"In the future it's those little details of how you play 10 men and really keep doing what's working for you.

"Glenn Middleton came on and had an impact and we should have kept getting the ball to him. There are things they can take away and improve.

"I think Daniel he was expecting impact and was maybe protecting himself and the ball hit him on the arm. It's really unlucky and we didn't deserve to lose."

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Gemmill's team started the night leading Group D but now drop to third, two points behind the Greeks who now take over at the top at the midway point of the qualifying campaign.

"It's halfway, there's so much to play for but I look at it differently," added Gemmill. "I see young players pushing.

"They'll make a huge progression compared to when we started to when we finish in every way - on and off the pitch, mentality, maturity, some will be unrecognisable when they finish.

"There's a good feeling - not right now in this moment - but overall they're doing great."