DELIGHTED skipper Scott Brown admitted Celtic had learned their lesson from their last visit to Ibrox as they set about displaying their quality and demolishing Steven Gerrard’s side yesterday.
The champions won 2-0 and boss Neil Lennon made the point keeper Allan McGregor had prevented his side from piling on the goals with several great saves.
The performance was a far cry from the last time they turned out in Govan – and were turned over in one of the Bhoys’ most lamentable outings of the campaign.
Everyone accepts it was a dead rubber and the eighth successive title was already wrapped up and back in the Parkhead trophy cabinet, but it does not make for easy viewing to see a team in green and white hardly laying a glove on their opponents in a two-goal loss.
Brown, who helped the team dominate the midfield on this occasion, told the club website: “The manager wanted us to play a bit higher up the park and not take the chances at the back.
“We let an early goal in last time, so we learned our lessons.
A CORNER OF PARADISE…Celtic players and fans celebrate after the second goal.
“It’s about coming here and showing you’ve got the quality. It’s always hard going away from home, we need to defend and catch teams on the counter-attack. We have pace everywhere, Jonny Hayes comes on and Mikey Johnston goes off and we have pace there. James Forrest has pace on the right, as well.
“For the young ones to come through and win away from home is what this club is about.
“It’s about bringing the young ones through and showing their talent in the big games. We need to recover, make sure everyone is okay and go again. We have a huge season of 60-odd games and it’s about winning as many of them as we can.”
A first-half strike from Odsonne Edouard got the ball rolling and a marvellous sweeping move opened the way for Hayes to score the killer second goal.
Christopher Jullien, delivering an awesome display in the heart of the defence, nodded a long ball down to Olivier Ntcham who turned it on to Hayes. He nudged it to Edouard who transferred it back inside to Ntcham.
Hayes took off on a jet-propelled run down the left to receive a beautifully-measured through pass from the Frenchman, take a couple of touches before lashing in a left-foot shot. McGregor made yet another crucial stop, but couldn’t hold the stinging drive and it broke back to the Republic of Ireland international.
DELIGHT – AT THE DOUBLE…Neil Lennon and Leigh Griffiths celebrate.
This time there was no mistake as Hayes rolled the ball into the inviting net and set off with his team-mates to celebrate with the pocket of Celtic fans in a corner of Ibrox.
Brown added: “It was a great performance from the lads. We defended really well, we came here, knew our jobs, knew what we had to do and we delivered on the park.
“The motivation for us week-in-week-out is our fans wanting us to win whether we’re at home or away. There’s a lot of pressure on us all the time and, for us, this is another game and we need to make sure we win it.
“I enjoy playing football, I play with a smile on my face and whether I’m on the pitch or the bench, as long as this team wins, that’s the main thing. It’s not about me individually. It’s about this team collectively.
“It’s hard to come here and play and press in the way we do. The new boys are all playing catch-up with that and now they’re starting to understand how we play, how we dictate the game and press high up the park. Now they’ve got that.
“I think we defended really well and for us to come here and keep a clean sheet is great.”