Ange Postecoglou praised the typical never-give-up attitude of her Celtic players after they fought back to a dramatic 2-2 draw with Rangers at Ibrox.
Hoops’ desire to go all the way to the final whistle has been a feature of the Parkhead club under the Australian boss and they were questioned again against their bitter rivals in a thrilling Old Firm fixture.
The visitors had started well with Japanese striker Daizen Maeda scoring in the fifth minute after taking advantage of poor Gers defence.
The Light Blues responded and Ryan Kent scored an equalizer two minutes after half-time before captain James Tavernier scored a penalty to make it 2–1.
However, three minutes from the end of normal time, Maeda’s compatriot Kyogo Furuhashi equalized to keep Celtic nine points clear of their Glasgow rivals at the top of the table.
Postecoglou said: “It’s the way this group is, the way we’ve created the environment.
“There is nothing like a lost cause. You go to the final whistle and nothing changes. You have to do that.
“For that to be effective, you have to do it weekly. And we do it.
“Even in our comfortable wins, you will see us being really aggressive until the last minute.
“Players are conditioned to think that way and play that way. It’s easy for me to talk about it, but in today’s environment, and the way the game was, it would have been almost natural to say ‘God, it’s not going to be our day.’ But this group of players just doesn’t do that.
“It was a first-class football match, a good derby. Both teams were going for it.
“We started the game very well and then we got a bit lost, the last 10-15 minutes of the first half we gave away the ball unnecessarily, unusually for us, without much pressure.
“That allowed them to get a little bit of confidence and obviously they came out very strong at the start of the second half.
“We struggled to get familiar with the game, but again, when necessary, the players found the will and character to achieve the goal and achieve a result.”
Postecoglou revealed why Greek striker Giorgios Giakoumakis came on as a second-half substitute to complement Furuhashi rather than replace him.
The Celtic coach said: “We needed goals. Kyogo is quite smart. He can drop like a 10, he’s played it in his career.
“So I felt at that moment that we needed a goal. Rangers started to pull back a bit which meant hopefully we would have more balls in the box.
“And if we did that, having additional bodies there would help us. It worked that way.”
Canada international right-back Alistair Johnston was picked for his Celtic debut and Postecoglou was impressed by the 24-year-old’s performance.
He said: “I thought it was good. It’s a tough game to get into. It’s not just a derby, it’s away from home and we all knew it was a great game for several reasons.
“For the most part, it handled very well. He was solid defensively. He was up against a very good player in Ryan Kent.
“For the most part, I thought he handled it very well, but there is more to come from him, especially in an attacking sense once he comes to understand our games. He won’t have a tougher test than that as a Celtic player. He got through it very well.”