NEIL LENNON didn’t hold back as he praised his Celtic players after their excellent 2-0 triumph at Ibrox in the High Noon shoot-out.
The Hoops boss admitted he was surprised to find the eight-in-a-row champions were rated as the underdogs before kick-off against Steven Gerrard’s team.
The Parkhead outfit went into the clash with a 100 per cent record after winning three Premiership outings in succession while racking up 15 goals in the process.
After strikes from Odsonne Edouard and substitute Jonny Hayes took that tally to 17, the Irishman felt the result silenced the critics, as CQN reported in the match summary.
Lennon, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “It was an outstanding performance.
“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks. Myself, the board, the players have been written off so early.
“You don’t believe the noise, you don’t believe the hype and we’ve come here and performed an outstanding masterclass of how to play a derby here.
“We were on the front foot from the start. We dominated the first-half, weren’t really in any trouble and Allan McGregor kept Rangers in it from the scoreline being three or four today.
“Maybe, maybe now people will cut us a bit of slack and respect us.”
Asked if he had utilise the “siege mentality” outlook, he answered: “Yeah, you can use it. Rangers were in great form and we were in great form, but we felt we had the quality.
“New players coming in, bedding in, you give Christopher Jullien Man of the Match and he’s shown what he can do, Boli Bolingoli outstanding, but the whole team have been playing so well.
“We’ve got great players and I thought my captain, Scott Brown, and Callum McGregor really set the tone today as you have to do, and were physical.
“I thought the referee had a great game and he needed to be. Rangers were physical, but we came out on top and deservedly so.”
Lennon was also delighted with the back four that ended the game – Moritz Bauer, Hatem Abd Elhamed, Jullien and Bolingoli who were all having their first taste of the Glasgow fixture.
He added: “Really proud. Abd Elhamed, he had another outstanding game, then Moritz came on and did a great job for us, Ntcham when he came on was outstanding and Hayes wraps it up.
“The shape of the team, the mentality of the team was just outstanding. I mean, coming here like I said the other day as underdogs, for whatever reason, I think we put out a real message today.