Celtic manager Neil Lennon says that his Bhoys deserve respect for their goalless draw at home to Benfica at Parkhead last night.
The Scottish champions were drawn in a tough group along with Barcelona and Spartak Moscow and were expected to be the whipping boys of Group G. Lennon believes that last night’s performance should banish those thoughts.
“I hope that we gained a little bit more respect tonight from the footballing world.
I think Benfica went into the game heavy favourites but I don’t think you could call the game tonight. I think a draw was probably a fair result. It shows that we have a bit of depth to the squad and can compete at this level,” Lennon said.
Only one of Celtic’s starting 11, Scott Brown, had Champions’ League experience and the former Northern Ireland international feels that his young side will improve from last night’s game.
“The players have sampled it now, they’ve had a feel of it. There were 10 guys making their Champions League debut against a very experienced Champions League side, so I’m very proud of the team. “
He was pleased with his side’s determination in defence although their failure to trouble Benfica’s keeper is a worry for Lennon with visits from Spartak Moscow and European heavyweights Barcelona still to come.
“We didn’t work their keeper as much as we would have liked but saying that I was very pleased with the team performance tonight. It was a very good tempo, a good shape to us, we were committed and played with real zest and no fear against a class side,” he added.