Neil Lennon insisted his Celtic side had earned respect across Europe and proved they could compete in the Champions League after a 0-0 draw with Benfica last night.

Their return to the group stage after a four-year absence was edgy and evenly-contested but Celtic claimed a point at home on matchday one before their next two Group G games, both away, to Spartak Moscow and Barcelona.

Neither side looked likely to claim a winner last night but Lennon was pleased that his team, 10 of whom had not played in the Champions League before, had held such an experienced Portuguese side. "I always felt we could compete and I hope we have gained a little bit more respect from the footballing world," said the Celtic manager.

"Benfica went into the game as heavy favourites but I don't think you could call the game. It shows that we have a bit of depth, to be able to compete without Georgios Samaras, Joe Ledley and Biram Kayal.

"I haven't set the team any targets in the group but I did say to them after the game that if you're not going to win a game, don't lose it. We have gained a point already so it's a decent start. We will probably have to get something in one of the away games and we know that's a tall order given our history in the competition, but this is a different team, a different animal, and we are capable of getting some results away from home. That was the first test of Champions League football for them and the majority of them passed the test.

"It was a fair result. We didn't work their goalkeeper as much as I would have liked. Having said that, I was very pleased with the team's performance. There were some superb performances.

"I thought Charlie Mulgrew had a fantastic game. Adam Matthew, Kelvin Wilson, Victor Wanyama and Scott Brown in midfield; there are a lot of positives to come out of it and we move forward with a lot of confidence. A few maybe didn't reach the heights they can do, but that's understandable.

"Benfica set their stall out to be hard to break down and to hit us on the counter-attack. It's a learning curve for me to see how other teams adapt to conditions away from home in the Champions League. I thought the atmosphere was brilliant. It was marvellous. It was a great privilege to be in the dug-out tonight."

Lennon had known England goalkeeping coach and scout Ray Clemence would be at the game to watch Fraser Forster but he had not told his player in case it inhibited his performance. "I thought whatever Fraser did, he did very, very well," said Lennon.

Mikael Lustig came off with a hamstring strain which could make him a doubt against Dundee on Saturday.

Jorge Jesus, the Benfica coach, felt his team had deserved to win. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy, Celtic are a very aggressive team, good defensively. But Benfica played very well and victory would have been deserved.

"Their best player for me was without a doubt James Forrest. I was enchanted by their tactics, they surprised me. Celtic could have scored three points but they lost two at home."