Tony Mowbray admits the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title can only be lost by Rangers following Celtic’s 1-0 defeat at Ibrox.
In an absorbing afternoon in Govan, Hoops skipper Scott Brown was controversially shown a straight red card by referee Dougie McDonald in the 65th minute after wrestling with Kyle Lafferty but it looked like the visitors would see the game out.
However, in the final seconds of three added minutes Edu, on earlier for Lee McCulloch, bundled the ball over the line following a goalmouth scramble to take Walter Smith’s side 10 points clear with a game in hand.
“As I have been saying for a few weeks, we have to keep going and try and win every game,” the Celtic boss said.
“But it’s fair to say it’s there for Rangers to lose.
“However, strange things have happened in football and so we have to win all our games starting next weekend.
“But we are all sensible enough to know that we need Rangers to slip up along the way, so we will wait and see.
“I thought we would see the game out but it wasn’t to be.
“We have been there before this season. A corner kick in the last minute of injury time, and the last opportunity and we lose a goal.
“Maybe that’s the youthfulness of the defensive unit but a lot of credit to them, they stuck to their task in difficult circumstances after the sending off.”
Mowbray had not seen the Brown dismissal again on television before he came in for the post-match press conference but claimed plenty in the Celtic dressing room believed there are grounds for appeal.
“I haven’t see the incident so it’s difficult for me to comment,” he said.
“But there are people in the dressing room who have seen it plenty of times and they thought it was a very harsh decision.
“They are talking about definite grounds for appeal and if there are grounds of appeal then we will appeal it.”
The Celtic boss denied he would have to exert a calming influence on Brown, whom he only recently made his captain.
He said: “I’m not there to change Scott Brown from the combative footballer he is, that’s what makes him the player he is.
“He hasn’t got a case to answer with me but we will wait and see.
“As I say I will judge when I see it.”
Mowbray tried hard to refrain from criticising referee McDonald, who had been under added pressure from the Parkhead camp who let it be known earlier in the week that they were aggrieved at decisions which they believed had gone against them this season – including in the two previous games against Rangers.
McDonald booked Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra and Hoops striker Marc-Antoine Fortune early in the game and then ruled out a goal by Edu for handball by his Ibrox team mate Kenny Miller.
However, asked if Bougherra was perhaps fortunate to escape further punishment after subsequently committing several more fouls, the Celtic boss said:
“I don’t want to comment (on Bougherra), I will get into trouble but the referee gave himself a difficult job with early bookings.
“There was a sense early on that the game wasn’t going to finish with 22 players on the field but maybe that was his tactic, to stamp his authority on the game but I think he gave himself a few problems.
“But there are probably one or two challenges worse than the one he got his booking for.
“There were silly things like a booking for Fortune for a handball in the first few minutes then he disallows a goal for a handball.
“Why isn’t there a booking for both handballs? Is he trying to say that one was deliberate and one wasn’t? If it isn’t deliberate then it shouldn’t be handball so there were a few inconsistencies.
“But I don’t think that was the reason (for the defeat) unless I look at the sending off and it was the wrong decision.”
Mowbray revealed that teenage stopper Thomas Rogne, who was making his Old Firm debut, sustained a hamstring injury which caused him to be replaced by Darren O’Dea.
He said: “It was disappointing. We are suffering at the moment in that area of the pitch.”