Celtic captain Callum McGregor has praised the character of his team after digging out a draw against Rangers at Ibrox, a result he acknowledges is significant in the context of the title race.

McGregor admitted that the champions were well below their best as Rangers overturned Daizen Maeda’s early opener to take the lead early in the second half.

Despite the game seeming to be slipping away from them at that stage, Celtic managed to find a late leveller through Kyogo, and McGregor was delighted with how his teammates refused to accept defeat.

“I think in the end it was good character again from the group to keep going even though things were against us,” McGregor said.

“In terms of performance levels we weren’t quite at the races, but it’s important when things are going against you, you show mental strength.

“We get the one chance and Kyogo does really well to finish, so it was positive in the end considering the performance.

“It keeps us where we were coming into the game and we obviously know the significance of that.

“Coming into the game, we wanted a result to come away with. Ideally we wanted to win, but don’t lose, and I think that’s important in football as well that when you aren’t playing well you don’t lose.

“I think that’s always vital, so credit to the lads as well.

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“We just look after ourselves. Obviously, everybody knows what the league table says, and they can come to their own conclusions about what is a must win and what’s not.

“We just get on with our own job. We came here, we wanted a positive result. We wanted a win, but we didn’t do that, we didn’t play well enough, but it was important we didn’t lose the game.

“It keeps us where we were, in a good spot in the league, and we will just continue to work hard.

“The season is 38 games long, so we’ll just keep going until someone tells us to stop.”

McGregor saved particular praise for what he called Celtic’s ‘big players’, the likes of Kyogo and defenders Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers, who denied Rangers midfielder Malik Tillman of a clinching goal when Celtic trailed 2-1.

“It was a big block,” he said.

“When you come here you need big players to stand up in big moments of the game and do their job for the team, and he did that superbly.

“I thought both Cam and Carl were excellent in terms of the defensive side of the game. They were really, really good, really strong, and it gave us a great platform.

“That gives us a chance, it keeps us in the game, and we know that with the quality we’ve got at the top end, if we get half a chance then normally we can take it. That’s what happened.

“On both sides of the game, defensively we had a big moment and then Kyogo’s big moment as well. “That’s what we’re asking our big players to do.”

After an impressive opening half hour, Celtic rather lost their way in the game, and McGregor explained that complacency had crept in to their play a little.

“We started really well and our solutions in the game were good, our touch, passing tempo, all the things we talk about,” he said.

“Then I think we just got carried away a little bit, stopped doing the things that were getting us success, and there was a little moment where they got a press up and that changes the momentum of the game.

“The crowd got involved in the game and things started to spiral from there, but it’s important when that happens to regain your composure and go again. We didn’t quite do that, probably for the rest of the game.

“Rangers started the second half well and got the two goals, but I’ll go back to it, it was good character at the end to make sure we came away with a result.”