Scott Brown has claimed Celtic would have crushed Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday even if he had not been freed to play in the match.
Celtic captain Brown was outstanding in his team’s record 5-1 rout of their Old Firm opponents which stretched their unbeaten domestic campaign to 42 games.
The Scotland midfielder had faced the prospect of being suspended for the trip to Govan as a consequence of the red card he received during Celtic’s 2-2 draw at Ross County two weeks earlier.
But Celtic were successful in an appeal against that decision, Brown’s dismissal for a foul on Liam Boyce being downgraded to a yellow card by a Scottish FA disciplinary tribunal last Thursday.
The 31-year-old proceeded to orchestrate his team’s humbling of Rangers at Ibrox, six days after the equally one-sided 2-0 Scottish Cup semi-final win for Celtic over Pedro Caixinha’s side at Hampden.
But speaking to Celtic TV, Brown played down his own influence on Saturday’s result and insisted his team-mates could have been just as dominant without him.
“For me it was great to win the appeal because it was never a red card,” said Brown. “It wouldn’t have mattered if I was playing or someone else because we have top quality players on the bench who can come on and change games and create chances. That is why we score goals at the end because of the fitness levels. From start to finish the lads showed their qualities and showed their strength. At the end we ended up making Rangers kick the ball long every single time.
“That was their philosophy and they struggled to keep playing the way they wanted to because of our pressure, our fitness and our quality on the ball.
“When we turn up, we are better than any team in Scotland and we’ve done it yet again. We came to our supposed nearest rivals and we showed them how good we are on their own turf.
“The lads are all outstanding. It is a proper team game and there are no individuals in our squad and it shows the togetherness we have. We are all there celebrating together, we score a goal we are all together, and when we defend we are all together.”
Brown will now take an enforced break as the yellow card logged against his name for the incident at Ross County did trigger a two-match suspension under the totting-up disciplinary process.
He will miss Celtic’s home match against St Johnstone this Saturday and their trip to face second-placed Aberdeen at Pittodrie the following Friday. Brown has been instructed by manager Brendan Rodgers to go on holiday during his ban, before returning for the final two Premiership matches against Partick Thistle and Hearts, then the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen on 27 May.
Brown added: “We need to keep going. The gaffer wants us to get better week in, week out. There are five games left and we need to maintain the level we are playing at for as long as we possibly can.”