WITH all the talk of Celtic clearing crucial hurdles and perhaps entering the final furlong of the title race, it was still something to hear Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes compare Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer to a racehorse in the aftermath of the Norwegian's late winner against his side at Pittodrie.

It was meant as a sincere compliment on the athleticism of the 21-year-old, and he took it in the spirit it was intended as he laughed upon hearing of being likened to a thoroughbred for his lung-bursting, match-winning gallop.

“I like to run, so when I get the opportunity to attack I will," Ajer said.

“I saw James (Forrest) had the ball on the left side, and with his quality, I knew he wouldn’t lose the ball.

“I screamed for the ball from the halfway line, and luckily I got it.

“It was a fantastic moment. We knew that Aberdeen were going to be tough. They made a fantastic game of it, they pressed us high, they made it difficult for us to play out from the back and they created some very good chances. They performed at a really high level.

“I knew that the goalkeeper is a really good goalkeeper and he was making himself big, so I had to lift the ball. I’m just happy that I managed to do that."

Ajer's intervention was a demonstration of Celtic's refusal to settle for what may very well have been a decent point given the conditions and how difficult Aberdeen made it for the visitors to settle into their stride.

"As a Celtic player, you’re never happy if you aren’t winning," he said.

“We always have a mindset to win the game, and at 1-1 we changed the system to a back four to attack even more.

“Winning is always our target. Today was all about the three points. We go away to a really tough fixture with the conditions and the dry pitch, we knew we had to play a little bit different.

"Aberdeen played their best performance against us, the way they pressed us and they way they played was really good."

Despite the win and the compliments coming his way, Ajer is very much keeping his feet on the ground.

“We play so many games from now until the end of the season," he said.

"We go in Thursday in a difficult European game then we have so many tough league games coming up. We’re never getting carried away.

"That’s how it is to be a Celtic player, you have to win every game and that’s what we’re aiming to do."