AFTER four days backing from Neil Lennon the Celtic players returned the compliment to their gaffer with an emphatic 4-0 win over Hearts at Tynecastle last night.
The build-up to the match had been dominated by the verbal clash between Lennon and some supporters during Saturday's 1-0 home defeat from Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
While Celtic's home form has been patchy with just seven goals from seven games on the road, Lennon's side have rattled in an emphatic 21 strikes from eight games with Hearts dead and buried after half an hour as they trailed to goals from Lassad Nouioui, Mikael Lustig and a Ryan Stevenson own goal.
Underpinning the whole performance was another international class display from Fraser Forster who pulled off three eye-catching saves before ensuring his clean sheet with an 88th minute penalty save from Marius Zaliukas.
Forster has arguably been Celtic's player-of-the-season so far and was delighted to see the team back on form a week ahead of the crucial Champions League tie with Spartak Moscow.
"The gaffer had asked for a reaction from us and that is what he got," the keeper explained. "There were harsh words after the weekend.
"You can't get beat at home and drop the number of points we have at home and be happy about it.
"We're obviously disappointed with our home form and it's important now that we put a run of wins together and show the consistency that we did last season.
"We know we can play like that, but now it's doing it consistently and that's the challenge for us in the league, to keep up that level of performance. It's also about grinding out wins if we have to."
Forster added: "We were a bit stunned by the manager threatening to quit. He has done a fantastic job since he came through the door and we players are responsible for what goes on on the pitch. I think the stick should stay with us.
"The manager's shown great faith bringing all of us to the club and we as professionals know that Saturday wasn't acceptable. It's just important that we play like this on a more regular basis. If you lose then you'll always have your critics but it's important that we go out and don't worry about what people are saying. We need to show what we can do and we've got our own pride. It's important that we focus on that and play the best we can for everyone."
Gary Hooper completed the scoring for Celtic in the 83rd minute to send Lennon's side clear at the top of the table.