STAND-IN boss Gavin Strachan admitted he was “gutted” after Hibs’ stoppage-time goal denied patched-up Celtic a crucial win at Parkhead last night.
The Hoops were leading 1-0 trhough a sublime free-kick goal from David Turnbull and it looked as though three vital points had been secured until their repetitive failure to deal with a set-play came back to haunt them in the fading moments.
Diego Laxalt gave away a meaningless foul on the right and Stevie Mallan swung in the free-kick to the back post. It was knocked across the face of the goal where rookie keeper Conor Hazard, who had previously been extremely impressive, flapped weakly at the ball.
It dropped to Shane Duffy who hacked it to unmarked Kevin Nisbet, the only Easter Road player in the vicinity, and he thrashed the ball into the roof of the net.
The effort left the champions 21 points adrift of Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side in the pursuit of their historic tenth successive title although they have three games in hand.
With Neil Lennon and John Kennedy forced to self-isolate along with 13 players in the sensational fall-out of Christopher Jullien’s positive Covid test in Dubai, Strachan, son of former treble championship-winning Hoops gaffer Gordon, was in charge.
The coach, speaking to STV, admitted: “The players put a lot into the game. I thought we’d won it with a moment of magic, but it’s a frustrating time to concede and the manner of the goal is a tough one to take.
“When you factor in the disruption we’ve had over the last couple of days, I thought the performance was very good.
“There was a lot of energy in it. A lot of endeavour which you would expect and there were moments of good quality.
“In any circumstances, it’s a privilege leading a Celtic team and something anyone with a coaching career would be very proud of.
“I’m just gutted we couldn’t get the three points.
“Where does it leave the title race? It leaves it as more difficult. It does, but there’s still a lot of football to be played.
“We’ve just got to pick up as many points as we can and hope that other factors maybe change in our favour.”
Strachan will be in the dug-out again on Satuurday when in-form Livingston visit the east end of Glasgow.