CELTIC centre half Christopher Jullien has hit back at claims that he deserved to be sent off for a challenge on Alfredo Morelos in the game against Rangers last month – and insisted the temperamental striker had actually fouled him.

Steven Gerrard alleged after the match at Parkhead, which the Ibrox club won 2-1, that Jullien should have been red carded for bringing down Morelos as he bore down on the Celtic goal late on.

However, the French defender is adamant it was the fiery Colombian centre forward, who was ordered off for the second time in three games towards the end of the Ladbrokes Premiership fixture for a second bookable offence after diving, who should actually have been cautioned.

“I have to admit that after that game I tried to erase it fast in my head,” said Jullien. “I don’t remember exactly what incident he (Gerrard) is talking about.

"I remember one where I put my body in front of him and he pushed me. For me it’s a foul for me. At the end of the day he was a winner, but in that case it was a foul for me.”

Jullien prevented Morelos - the South American who has scored no fewer than 28 goals in all competitions in the 2019/20 campaign, but who has now failed to net in 12 appearances against Celtic - from hitting the target at Parkhead.

The Frenchman admitted he had enjoyed his personal duel with the country’s leading scorer even though Neil Lennon’s side are now just two points behind Steven Gerrard’s team, who have a game in hand against St Johnstone at home, to play as a result of the defeat.

“It’s a good battle on the field,” he said. “There was a big battle in the last game and will be in all the games we play this year. You try to defend the best you can and if you can make a difference on the field it’s a bonus.’

“Every game you have a battle on the field one against one. My goal when I start every game is to win my individual battle. I am still looking and working hard to battle every game. I think it’s important for progression.

“I am not a guy who is going to think about it too much after the game as a player. I enjoy it in the moment, I like a good battle. If I am losing I am going to learn something from it, if I’m winning I’m just gonna keep working for it. I’m just a good competitor and that’s it.”

Jullien, speaking from the Scottish champions’ warm-weather training break in Dubai, expressed confidence that Celtic would bounce back from the agonising loss to Rangers when play resumes after the winter break.

“I saw that feeling first when we drew against Hibs,” he said. “The mentality all the guys had in the locker room was that it felt like a defeat. I see the feeling they have when they are not winning. I was just happy to see that and happy to be the kind of guy who wants to win every game.

“I understand that losing is really bad. But the desire to win makes you work hard, that’s why we are here every day. That’s why we push ourselves every day. We had a bad moment and now we have to get up.

“We had bad moments at Hibs, and Livingston as well, and we had to get up every day after that and did well to recover. So I trust my teammates and me to get up after that moment we just had and be better.”