Neil Lennon had every reason to feel vindicated in his backing of Scott Brown after the Celtic skipper returned from injury to fire the Hoops to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a 2-1 home win over Hibernian.
The former Hibs player repaid his manager's enormous faith in him after only five minutes by grabbing the opener with a wonderful volley. Glenn Loovens added a second after the break with a header but former Celtic striker Derek Riordan responded quickly with a brilliant chip to keep the home fans nervous until the final whistle.
"Are you surprised?" smiled Lennon when asked about Brown's performance. "He's got his detractors but we all know what he can do. It was a wonderful performance, he led the team brilliantly with good energy and quality and it was a wonderful goal he scored as well."
Lennon claimed his side made heavy weather of a victory that should have been more comfortable.
"At 2-0 up we should have been coasting," he said. "The goal we gave away was criminal from our point of view. The one player that can change a game in their team is Riordan. The game went flat at times and some individuals were not at their best but when you go 2-0 up you should see it out comfortably.
"When it goes to 2-1 it gets a bit edgy but we had enough chances to see the game off.
Hibernian have won one game in nine this season and eight in their past 34 but boss John Hughes seemed happy enough with his side's performance.
"I felt the Hibs performance was good," he said. "We had to come to Celtic and be hard-working and solid and I think that was evident.
"I think we could have got something but not when you concede early goals in each half, especially the second one which gave us a mountain to climb.
"But I've been in football and it will turn. We just need to stick together, that result will come and then you are up and running."
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