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Scot Gemmill takes positives from Scotland Under-21 performance in Denmark loss

Scotland v Northern Ireland – Under 21 International Friendly – C&G Systems Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Scot Gemmill felt Scotland Under-21s showed real spirit to compete with their Denmark counterparts despite suffering a 1-0 defeat in their European Championship qualifier at Tynecastle.

The visitors claimed a deserved victory courtesy of an early strike from Gustav Isaksen to move five points ahead of the Scots after two rounds of Group I fixtures.

But coach Gemmill was pleased with the way his young team kept themselves in the match.

He said: “We are disappointed to lose but I thought it was a positive performance. We’ve had times in the past when a pot one team has completely dictated the game to us but I didn’t think that was the case tonight. Of course, there were moments in the game when they did and our players had to show their resilience and intelligence.

“But the goal we lost was disappointing. Something I demand from the team is defending throw-ins. We are normally very good at shutting it down but it got switched and six or seven seconds later the ball was in our net. That is the level we are playing against. If you don’t do your job the ball will end up in the back of your net. It’s a steep learning curve.”

Gemmill admitted his side lacked the guile in the final third to trouble Denmark.

He said: “Our players have shown we can be resilient and aggressive and hard to beat, but we do need to add that extra bit to our game. I take responsibility for that because I put so much emphasis on being hard to beat.

“But it’s very difficult because the more open you are against that level of opposition, you take more risks. You have to find that balance.”

Scotland are refusing to give up on making it to the finals in Georgia and Romania in 2023, but Gemmill knows next month’s double-header at Tannadice against Kazakhstan and Belgium are now crucial.

He said: “The games at home in November are two different games against Kazakhstan, where we are expected to win and we have to break them down, and against Belgium we will have to show resilience and tactical intelligence. It’s two great challenges.”