Scott Brown has lauded the performance of Leigh Griffiths after Celtic thumped Astana 5-0 last night.

Brendan Rodgers’ side have almost certainly booked their place in the UEFA Champions League group stages after the emphatic win against the Kazakhstan side and Hoops skipper Brown was unequivocal in his praise of Griffiths.

Gary Linekar described the Scotland internationalist as the catalyst for all of Celtic’s forward movements and Brown was in agreement.

“It isn’t just about Leigh’s goal, it is about his hold-up play and what he does for the team,” said Brown. “A couple of years ago, Leigh would have been taken shots whenever he the ball up there but you see his link-up play now, it is of the highest level.

“He is holding 6 foot 5 defenders off – that should tell you just how much he has come on.

“I thought he was phenomenal for us last night but I have thought from the start of the season. I just sense that he is up for it and ready to put in another strong campaign. He has certainly started how he means to go on.

“To go and put a display in like that in the Champions League qualifiers, when there is so much at stake, shows the level he is at.

“So much of how we have been playing comes down to Griff. Every defence starts with him, he works his backside off – if he didn’t work it would be a lot harder for us. He is fit, he is keen, he’s lively and you can guarantee that he will be in among the goals this season. “

Despite the magnitude of the victory that essentially guarantees Celtic another crack at the Champions League this season – and another sizeable windfall – Brown was adamant that the Hoops will not down tools in the return leg next week.

“We won’t think for a minute that it is over,” he said. “We aren’t there yet. It would be nice to go over there and get another win under our belts and the result last night just takes a wee bit of pressure of us. We all know how nervous these nights can be but given the cushion that we have got and the fact we didn’t concede then I think we will be relatively assured.

“We are only halfway there and it is a case of just maintaining a professional approach.

“We want to be in the Champions League. It’s where we feel we belong and we want to be in there mixing it with the best teams in Europe. So far we have gone about our business the right way.”

However, the Celtic skipper did concede that the maturity of the performance was notable.

Astana were vocal before the game about settling a score from last season and Brown was quietly satisfied that Celtic did their talking on the pitch.

“It was definitely one of the classiest performance I’ve been part of at this level,” he said. “They came after us a wee bit in the opening stages and put us under a wee bit of pressure but you saw how composed we were and how we just kept looking to start an attack.

“European football is about keeping the ball and creating chances and on that front we need to feel pretty pleased with ourselves. We went out and done our job, done our talking out there on the park and now we can go over there next week feeling confident.”