Ange Postecoglou praised the ‘never die’ attitude typical of his Celtic players after they struggled to snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw with Rangers at Ibrox.
The Hoops’ willingness to go all the way to the final whistle was a hallmark of the Parkhead club under the Australian boss, and they were questioned again against their bitter rivals in an exciting Old Firm clash.
The visitors got off to a good start with Japanese striker Daizen Maeda, who scored in the fifth minute after taking advantage of Gers’ poor defence.
The Light Blues responded and Ryan Kent equalized two minutes after the break before captain James Tavernier struck from the penalty spot to make it 2-1.
However, with three minutes left in normal time, Maeda’s compatriot Kyogo Furuhashi equalized to keep Celtic nine points clear of rivals Glasgow at the top of the table.
Postecoglou said, “That’s the group, the way we’ve created the environment.
“There is no such thing as a lost cause. You play until the final whistle and nothing changes. You have to do this.
“For it to be effective, you have to do it every week. And we do.
“Even in our comfortable wins, you’ll still see how aggressive we are until the last minute.
“Players are conditioned to think this way and play this way. It’s easy for me to say this, but in today’s environment and the way we’ve played, it would be almost natural to say ‘Jesus, this is not going to be our day. But this group of players just don’t do that.
“It was an amazing football match, a good derby. Both teams were headed in that direction.
“We started the game really well and then we just got a little lost, the last 10-15 minutes of the first half we gave the ball away unnecessarily, unusually for us, without a lot of pressure.
“It allowed them to gain some faith and of course they came out really strong at the start of the second half.
“We struggled with the game but again, when required, the players found the will and character to score a goal that would give us 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 boss said: “We needed goals. Kyogo is quite clever. He can go down as 10, he played that way in his career.
“I just felt at the time that we needed a goal. Rangers started to pull back a bit which meant we hoped we could get more balls in the box.
“And if we did, having extra bodies would help us. That’s how it worked out.
Canada’s right-back Alistair Johnston was sent off on his Celtic debut and Postecoglou was impressed by the 24-year-old’s performance.
He said, “I thought he was good. It’s a tough game to throw him into. It’s not just a derby, it’s also away from home and we all knew it was an important game for many reasons.
“He was doing very well for the most part. He was solid defensively. He faced a very good fighter Ryan Kent.
“Most of the time I thought he handled it really well, but you can get more out of him, especially in an offensive sense, once he understands our games. He won’t get a tougher test than that as a Celtic player. He went through it really well.”