Skipper Callum McGregor had no doubts as to the magnitude of Celtic’s 2-1 win over Rangers at Parkhead on Saturday.
Midfielder Paulo Bernardo and Japan striker Kyogo Furuhashi scored either side of half-time before Gers defender Leon Balogun saw red for denying Daizen Maeda a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Gers captain James Tavernier reduced the deficit in the 88th minute with a trademark free-kick but ultimately Celtic moved eight points clear of their Old Firm rivals at the top of the cinch Premiership having played two games more.
Speaking to Celtic’s website, midfielder McGregor said: “It was a massive win. Everyone knows what it means to the club and the supporters, so, first and foremost, that’s what you’re playing for – you’re playing for the pride and you’re playing for the city.
“So it was a brilliant win, a brilliant three points and the performance, I thought for 75 minutes we were brilliant.
“They go down to 10 men and we should maybe have managed the game a little bit better and we gave ourselves a bit of a fright at the end, but you couldn’t ask for any more from the players, to be honest.
“The level and the intensity and the pressing was absolutely first-class – everything you want in a derby game – and Paulo with the quality for the first goal just sets it off, and sets the tone for us.
“So it was a brilliant performance, a brilliant win and we just keep going now.”
Brendan Rodgers, who continued his impressive record against Rangers over two spells to 12 wins, two draws and just one loss from 15 matches, singled out McGregor for special praise.
“Callum’s on a different level to anyone on the pitch, with the greatest respect,” he said.
“The quality that he has, the idea of football that he has, how he leads the team is just absolutely incredible, and when you need your top players to stand up, then he was there.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him. I saw him from my first time here where he contributed so well for me, and this time he’s leading the team and he does lead it properly.
“It was a brilliant individual performance by him and I’m very, very lucky to have him here.”
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