ALISTAIR Johnston has revealed that adopting a “f*** it” mentality sparked Celtic’s second half fightback against Motherwell - and admitted that he and his team mates have to keep the same devil-may-care mindset if they want to reclaim the Scottish title this season.

The right back and his team mates performed abysmally in the opening 45 minutes of the cinch Premiership game at Fir Park on Sunday and were trailing 1-0 at half-time after conceding a Blair Spittal goal.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side blew their hosts away when they went back out on the park and recorded a 3-1 triumph which reduced Rangers’ lead at the top of the table to two points again thanks to an Adam Idah double and an injury-time Luis Palma strike.

Johnston was quizzed about the reasons for the dramatic turnaround at Lennoxtown yesterday as he looked ahead to the league match against Dundee at Parkhead this evening and explained that taking a far more positive approach had made a huge difference.

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“We passed forward, as simple as that sounds, and didn’t really think about the consequences as much,” he said. “We were a little too risk averse in the first half, playing a little too safe, a little too slow. That’s been a little bit of the tendency with how we’ve played of late.

“So it was important we all went – and we talked about this at half-time – with a little bit of an eff it mentality. Play it forwards and what’s the worst that can happen?

“Lose it up there, we all run with bodies around and we’ll win it back. That was something we really keyed in on and played it forwards, playing free and we did a really good job of that.

“We got back to our basics of letting the system dictate the football for us. When we’re playing forwards everyone just finds the right spot on the pitch. It causes teams a lot of trouble. The running we do, whoever it is on the pitch, the amount of legs we have tires teams out.

The Herald: “You could see it the more and more the minutes wore on. You could see it was coming, but it was about whether there would be enough time to get one. Luckily enough the 93rd minute and the 97th we got another. The second half was about playing free and playing forwards.”

Johnston added: “It’s something we’ve struggled with this year where I feel we’ve wasted the first half of a game way too often, especially at Celtic Park. When you do that the crowd senses it as well and they can get a little anxious. It can have a bit of a cyclical effect where non-one is helping each other out.

“It’s important for us to carry on how we finished that match, that mentality and ruthlessness from the get-go. We’re going to play forwards, get the crowd behind us.

“Then you have 90 minutes of forward-playing front-foot football, which is what we need and what the crowd expect out of a Celtic team and what they pay their money for. We know if we show that there’s plenty of football left this season where we can accomplish what we want to accomplish.”

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Johnston, who made his return from a two-and-a-half week injury lay-off against Motherwell, took off the protective face mask that he was wearing at half-time at Fir Park and acquitted himself far better personally in the second half without it.

The 25-year-old stressed that Celtic medical staff were content for him to remove the mask – but confessed that his mother had been concerned for his safety watching the game on television back home in Canada.

 “I just felt it needed to go,” he said. “It almost felt symbolic. The first half wasn’t our best football, not my best football. It just felt like ‘let’s get this thing off and see what happens’. Tell you what, it did turn so I’m going to take part credit for that, the mask going and the bad juju it had. It needed to go.

“I think my mum was a bit more worried. My phone was blowing up after the match. It wasn’t ‘congratulations’, it was ‘why did you take the mask off?’ I had a lot of worried texts like that.

“It felt alright. I’d felt good without it or with it. I was following the medical team’s advice. But, at the same time, I think they understood why I wanted to take it off and they weren’t too mad when I decided to.

“We all feel pretty comfortable with where it’s at. The mask is definitely there for precautionary reasons. I’m in a good place and happy with where the face is at. It looks good enough I guess - as my missus says!”

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