Gavin Strachan refused to call time on Celtic’s title hopes despite seeing the Covid-hit champions surrender more ground to runaway leaders Rangers.
With 13 players self-isolating after Christopher Jullien’s positive coronavirus test and the club’s controversial Dubai trip, a patchwork Hoops side collapsed yet again in the final moments to hand Hibernian a 1-1 draw at Parkhead.
David Turnbull thought he had got Celtic out of jail as he swept home with a sublime free-kick eight minutes from time.
But their inability to defend cross balls came back to haunt them yet again and Kevin Nisbet rammed home in stoppage time to leave Neil Lennon’s team 21 points adrift of their Old Firm rivals.
However, first-team coach Strachan – taking the team himself with boss Lennon and assistant John Kennedy also quarantining – told BBC Radio Scotland: “You just have to keep going. There’s a lot of football to be played and you never know what might happen.
“We just need to win on Saturday against Livingston and keep racking up the points and see what happens.
“There’s a big deficit of course but we’ve been in decent form, even when you look at the performance against Rangers.
“The players put a lot into the game and we thought we did enough to nick it. The sucker punch at the end was frustrating.
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“We were hoping we would have enough bodies back to see that out.
“We were frustrated it came from a set piece. We were a bit outgunned physically by the end but conceded cheap free kicks.
“Neil shares our frustration we couldn’t see it out.
“It was an ugly goal to concede. We had a few chances to clear the danger and got punished.”
Hibs boss Jack Ross hopes the result can jolt his side out of their recent slump as they brought a run of three straight defeats to an end.
He said: “We wanted to come and win the game. We were frustrated at the time of the Celtic goal because I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game.
“We merited something so that anger was tempered the end.
“The recent games have been sore for us, and painful because they’ve not been a reflection of how we’ve performed this season.
“Tonight stops the bleeding a bit in that respect. The players just need to be reminded that they’ve done an awful lot of good things this season and hopefully tonight propels us in the right direction again.
“Nisbet has scored a lot of different goals and that was a bit part of the attraction about signing him.
“He’s still young and will improve but his return has been excellent. I didn’t appreciate how good a finish it was until I saw it again. It was terrific.”