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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Lennon wary of Champions League travel

The Bhoys drew 0-0 with Benfica in their group opener in Glasgow last night.

Neil Lennon: optimistic.
Neil Lennon: optimistic.
Image: getty images

CELTIC BOSS Neil Lennon said Benfica will be a different side away after their 0-0 draw at Celtic Park to open their Champions League campaign.

An outstanding performance from Scott Brown and a series of Kris Commons chances failed to give the Old Firm club the lead, and with Benfica also squandering their chances, both teams had to settle for a point apiece.

Lennon is confident Celtic can grow from their opening performance and forget their 2-1 away defeat to St Johnstone in their last SPL outing, but admitted playing away from home will be a tough proposition.

“I am pleased,” he told Sky Sports. “It was a tough game against a quality side. I thought we coped more than admirably.

“We had more of a cutting edge before half-time, but it improves as we go on. It’s going to be difficult away, the away leg is always a different beast.”

Lennon is confident Celtic can compete for a place in the next round of this season’s Champions League, despite being drawn in the same group as Spanish giants Barcelona.

“Qualifying will be very difficult from this group, but it’s always hard in Champions League football,” he said. Benfica manager Jorge Jesus, meanwhile, expressed his happiness with his side’s performance, despite missing a host of chances to win the match.

Benfica are hoping to secure progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League for a second successive season and Jesus was thrilled with his side’s defensive display at Celtic Park.

“We had the best opportunity of the first-half with Rodrigo, and the same happened in the second-half,” he said. ”We faced very strong opponents, they were very difficult and played strong, direct football, making us drop very deep.

“But defensively we did not let Celtic create a single goal opportunity. Our two full-backs were very strong. We controlled the game as we wanted.”

Benfica face a stern test in their next match in Group G when they entertain Spanish giants Barcelona at Estadio da Luz on 2 October.

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