NEW Bhoy Alistair Johnston is hoping to get the nod to play in front of the Celtic fans against Kilmarnock at Parkhead on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Canadian World Cup right-back made his debut in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox where the champions maintained their nine-point advantage in the race for their eleventh title in 12 years.

With Anthony Ralston still injured and Josip Juranovic starting on the substitutes’ bench, Ange Postecoglou had no hesitation in throwing in Johnston for a baptism of fire.

HAND IT TO KYOGO…Alistair Johnston congratulates his team-mate after Furuhashi’s late leveller.

The defender, who agreed a £3.5million switch from MLS outfit CF Montreal last month and received his international clearance to play 24 hours before the kick-off in Govan, relished his first appearance in the hoops.

A beaming Johnston said: “It was an unbelievable experience and once you get a little bit of that taste, you just want more, so I can’t wait for the next match already.

“You want to go in and play the biggest matches – and there’s not really a bigger match than that in the entire world of football.

“That’s right up there with the atmosphere, the intensity, the passion from both fanbases – it was immense.”And, though it wasn’t the result we wanted in the end, we’re happy that we were able to get something out of it and send our fans home with something to hold on to.

BRING IT ON…a delighted Alistair Johnston after his debut. Image courtesy Celtic TV.

“Even just the 750 here, there was unbelievable noise, unbelievable passion. You can just see what it means to them – every goal, every tackle – so to think about playing in front of 60,000 at Celtic Park is pretty cool.

“I’ve actually been able to experience a couple of them now, being up in the players’ lounge watching them, but to be out there, hopefully on the field or on the bench, it’ll be that next level that every player aspires to be a part of, and it’ll be a dream come true for myself.”

The Hoops took the lead in the fifth minute following a lightning strike from Daizen Maeda, but they lost their way shortly after the turnaround when Ryan Kent levelled and then James Tavernier swept a penalty-kick high past Joe Hart to hand the hosts the lead.

Hopes, though, of reducing Celtic’s lead at the top with 18 games still to play were shattered with two minutes of the regulation 90 to play when Kyogo Furuhashi thumped his first-ever goal against the Govan club past Allan McGregor to make the final score 2-2.

ACTION BHOY…Alistair Johnston is already looking ahead to his next outing.

Johnston was impressed by the battling qualities of his new team-mates and, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I think it comes down to, first of all, belief from every single player, and from the coaching staff.

“They just instil that in the players, and also just the leaders on the field. We’re never settling.

“Even when we scored that second one, the older lads were saying, we’ve got to push for another one.

“And as the younger players and newer players in the group coming through, when you see that drive and hunger to constantly pick up three points in every single match, and that drive to say it’s not over until it’s over, it just fills you with that confidence and that belief that anything is possible.

“It’s another late goal and it’s kind of a trademark of this team, that we have that ability, no matter how difficult the match is, no matter how many people are behind the ball, that we’re always going to create that next chance, there’s always going to be another one and yet again we’ve proved it on the biggest stage.”


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