IT was no great surprise to seasoned followers of Scottish football when Celtic scored a winner in the seventh minute of injury-time in their cinch Premiership match against Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Parkhead club, who moved seven points clear of Rangers at the top of the league table as a result of the hard-fought triumph, have had an uncanny knack of clinching important victories with late, late goals in the past couple of seasons.

But Callum McGregor is well aware that Lazio, who the Scottish champions will face in their second Champions League group stage match in Glasgow this evening, are the kind of opponents who will not give up until the final whistle blows as well.

READ MORECallum McGregor taking inspiration from a Celtic double ahead of Lazio

He sat down and watched all of the Italians’ opening Group E encounter with Atletico Madrid in the Olympic Stadium in Rome when he had returned from the Celtic match against Feyenoord in the De Kuip in Rotterdam a fortnight ago.

The Scotland midfielder was greatly impressed with how Maurizio Sarri’s men – who earned a 1-1 draw when they equalised through goalkeeper Ivan Provedel in the 95th minute – acquitted themselves against Diego Simeone's charges and is not taking suggestions they are not at their best seriously.  

Lazio have won just two of their seven Serie A matches this season and are currently in 16th place in the league table - and manager Sarri has been involved in a public war of words with president Claudio Lotito over their transfer business this summer. 

Glasgow Times: But McGregor sensed the same sort of togetherness in the Lazio squad that exists in the Celtic camp when he watched their opening Champions League outing. 

“The late goals and that never-say-die attitude is something we’ve been built on in my entire time here,” he said. “We always continue pushing to the end. You think back to Tony Ralston’s winner at Ross County.

“You need that spirit in the group. You keep going, you never give up. And if you stick to your structure . . .  Look at Saturday. The goal comes from a winger trying to get in at the back post, he drags the boy in and Matt (O’Riley) has a great finish.

“It’s about disorganising the back line. It’s about staying calm under pressure. You need all those qualities and thankfully we have that.”

READ MORECeltic face Lazio at a good time but Sarri's side will still be tough

McGregor added: “But Lazio have that for sure. I watched their game against Atletico and they were well in the game. Atletico probably started the game better, but in the second half they deserved their goal. If you go and draw with a team like Atletico Madrid you have to respect that.

“You are playing against a really top team. That league is ultra-competitive just now. There is probably five or six teams that can go and win the league. They are playing at a really good level and it would be silly for anyone to disrespect them because they had a slower start than normal. For sure, we have done our homework and we know they are a top side.”

Meanwhile, McGregor has paid a glowing tribute to Tom Rogic, the player he replaced in Celtic’s last Champions League victory against Anderlecht back in 2017, after the Australian internationalist announced he had retired from football.

“He was special,” he said. “He was a really top player who delivered probably one of the most iconic moments for the club in terms of the cup final moment against Aberdeen to do the treble (Rogic scored an injury-time winner against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final in 2017).

"He will be remembered really fondly by the supporters as well as the guys who have worked with him as well. He is a top guy and someone who I wish all the happiness in the world to for him and his family. He is obviously decided to step away from football and I am sure he can look back on his career with a lot of pride.”