Celtic were left to rue a pedestrian performance as their return to the Champions League group stages ended in goalless stalemate against Benfica.

The scoreline tells an accurate tale in that neither side did enough to really trouble the opposition goalkeeper.

Fraser Forster kept out efforts from Benfica's Rodrigo and Ezequiel Garay.

Artur's biggest concern came from a Kris Commons shot from inside his own half, with the visiting defence coping well against Celtic's attack.

The enormous and highly vocal home fans must have expected more from their side, especially as they made the kind of lively start manager Neil Lennon had demanded of them.

They might have been in front inside five minutes from a Commons corner, but neither Victor Wanyama nor Charlie Mulgrew could smuggle the ball over the line.

Maintaining that high tempo looked key to Celtic's chances of success, but it was all too quickly allowed to dip as the game developed into a rather insipid midfield battle.

It was fully 32 minutes into the match before either keeper had a save to make, and on that occasion it was Forster.

Rodrigo galloped into the box looking to latch onto a beautifully weighted pass over the top of the Celtic defence by Enzo Perez, but Forster was quick to race off his line and block the striker's shot.

Nicolas Gaitan and Scott Brown

Celtic captain Brown battled hard in midfield

The lack of excitement at the other end was such that good work from Miku to earn a corner was met with thunderous applause, as was a bone-crunching Kelvin Wilson challenge when Benfica threatened on the breakaway.

Lennon must have asked his players to step up their efforts at the interval and Commons was unfortunate to see a goal-bound shot blocked by Garay a couple of minutes after the restart.

Shortly afterwards, following a weak punch by Artur from a Commons free-kick, Adam Matthews also saw a strike from the edge of the box deflected behind for a corner.

Wilson had been taking a few chances at the back for Celtic and was hugely fortunate to get away with some ponderous defending under pressure from Rodrigo.

Benfica had only very sporadically suggested they could hurt Celtic, but when Rodrigo and Pablo Aimar linked to set up Nicolas Gaitan after an hour, it was the Celtic defence breathing a sigh of relief as the shot from 10 yards was deflected wide.

Forster was then forced to push the ball wide as Garay glanced a header goalwards from the corner kick.

With 15 minutes remaining, Celtic had Thomas Rogne to thank as he dived to put his body in the way of a point-blank drive from Gaitan before, moments later, Commons almost caught Artur out with a shot from inside his own half.

Commons and Scott Brown were the only Celtic outfield players who could justifiably be content with their performances, with too many others unwilling or unable to go beyond the workmanlike.

The home side howled for a penalty with nine minutes left as James Forrest tumbled under the challenge of Garay, but Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli was unimpressed.

And though Celtic huffed and puffed their way towards the Benfica goal during the closing stages, a victory never looked likely.

The two sides trail Group G leaders Barcelona, who had to come from behind to beat Spartak Moscow 3-2, and with a trip to Moscow to come on 2 October, Celtic will have to improve considerably if they have genuine designs on making the knockout phase.

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (5)

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 02 Matthews
  • 03 Izaguirre Booked (Hooper - 66' )
  • 06 Wilson
  • 21 Mulgrew
  • 23 Lustig (Rogne - 63' )
  • 08 Brown Booked
  • 15 Commons
  • 49 Forrest
  • 67 Wanyama Booked
  • 07 Miku

Substitutes

  • 24 Zaluska
  • 04 Ambrose
  • 25 Rogne
  • 11 Nouioui
  • 30 Slane
  • 32 Watt
  • 88 Hooper

Benfica

  • 01 Artur
  • 24 Garay
  • 25 Melgarejo
  • 33 Jardel
  • 34 Almeida
  • 10 Aimar Booked (Cardozo - 63' )
  • 20 Gaitan (Nolito - 82' )
  • 21 Matic Booked
  • 35 Perez
  • 18 Eduardo Salvio
  • 19 Moreno (Bruno Cesar - 70' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 13 Paulo Lopes
  • 27 Miguel Vitor
  • 08 Bruno Cesar
  • 89 Gomes
  • 07 Cardozo
  • 09 Nolito
  • 11 Lima
Ref: Rizzoli
Att: 53,373

Match Stats

Shots

5 5

On target

3 2

Corners

9 10

Fouls

14 17

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:29 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

90:00 +2:16

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Victor Wanyama by Eduardo Salvio. Free kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

90:00 +0:56

Direct free kick taken by Kris Commons.

90:00 +0:56 Booking

Booking Zanaki Bruno Cesar receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

90:00 +0:48

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Scott Brown by Zanaki Bruno Cesar.

88:49

Guilherme Artur Moraes takes the direct free kick.

88:49 Booking

Booking Caution for Scott Brown.

88:43

Unfair challenge on Nemanja Matic by Scott Brown results in a free kick.

87:42

Short corner worked by Zanaki Bruno Cesar.

86:52

Manuel Agudo Nolito takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Victor Wanyama.

85:47

Charlie Mulgrew delivers the ball, Guilherme Artur Moraes makes a save.

84:49

Unfair challenge on Scott Brown by Eduardo Salvio results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

83:34

Foul by Scott Brown on Zanaki Bruno Cesar, free kick awarded. Lorenzo Melgarejo takes the free kick.

82:28

Gary Hooper challenges Andre Almeida unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Guilherme Artur Moraes.

81:36

Thomas Rogne restarts play with the free kick.

81:36 Substitution

Substitution (Benfica) makes a substitution, with Manuel Agudo Nolito coming on for Nicolas Gaitan.

81:36

Scott Brown fouled by Zanaki Bruno Cesar, the ref awards a free kick.

80:26

The ball is delivered by Kris Commons, Andre Almeida makes a clearance.

77:51

Corner taken by Kris Commons from the right by-line, Thomas Rogne gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Guilherme Artur Moraes. Direct free kick taken by Guilherme Artur Moraes.

77:21

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons from the left by-line, clearance by Ezequiel Garay.

75:30

Kris Commons takes a shot. Guilherme Artur Moraes makes a save.

74:17

Nicolas Gaitan takes a shot. Thomas Rogne gets a block in. Short corner taken by Zanaki Bruno Cesar, clearance by Kelvin Wilson.

73:35

Shot by Zanaki Bruno Cesar from a long way out goes over the net.

71:21

Ezequiel Garay challenges Nicolas Fedor Miku unfairly and gives away a free kick. Adam Matthews restarts play with the free kick.

70:39

Eduardo Salvio has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand post.

69:16

Nicolas Gaitan takes the free kick.

69:16 Substitution

Substitution Zanaki Bruno Cesar comes on in place of Moreno Rodrigo.

69:16

Foul by Scott Brown on Oscar Cardozo, free kick awarded.

68:39

Shot from just outside the area by Kris Commons misses to the right of the target.

67:34

Kris Commons takes a short corner.

67:16

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons, save by Guilherme Artur Moraes.

66:42

Inswinging corner taken by Kris Commons from the right by-line, Ezequiel Garay makes a clearance.

65:35 Substitution

Substitution Gary Hooper joins the action as a substitute, replacing Emilio Izaguirre.

64:01

Kris Commons delivers the ball, save made by Guilherme Artur Moraes.

63:28

Unfair challenge on Thomas Rogne by Oscar Cardozo results in a free kick. Fraser Forster restarts play with the free kick.

62:37 Substitution

Substitution Thomas Rogne replaces Mikael Lustig.

62:12 Substitution

Substitution Oscar Cardozo is brought on as a substitute for Pablo Aimar.

61:34

Outswinging corner taken by Pablo Aimar from the left by-line, clearance made by Mikael Lustig.

61:01

Corner taken right-footed by Pablo Aimar from the left by-line, save by Fraser Forster.

60:41

Pablo Aimar decides to take a short corner, clearance by Nicolas Fedor Miku.

60:17

Nicolas Gaitan takes a shot. Blocked by Scott Brown.

56:40

Victor Wanyama takes the free kick.

56:40 Booking

Booking Pablo Aimar receives a caution.

56:35

Pablo Aimar challenges Victor Wanyama unfairly and gives away a free kick.

54:43

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Kris Commons.

53:41

Foul by Eduardo Salvio on Emilio Izaguirre, free kick awarded. Kris Commons crosses the ball in from the free kick, Guilherme Artur Moraes makes a save.

52:51

Unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Pablo Aimar results in a free kick. Kris Commons takes the direct free kick.

52:00

James Forrest sends in a cross, clearance made by Vieira Jardel.

50:37

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Vieira Jardel by Nicolas Fedor Miku. Guilherme Artur Moraes takes the direct free kick.

49:07

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Nicolas Gaitan, Unfair challenge on Kelvin Wilson by Moreno Rodrigo results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

48:19

Victor Wanyama gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ezequiel Garay. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Pablo Aimar, clearance by Charlie Mulgrew.

47:45

Kris Commons takes a shot. Blocked by Ezequiel Garay.

46:01

Emilio Izaguirre takes the direct free kick.

46:01 Booking

Booking Nemanja Matic booked.

45:54

Nemanja Matic challenges Nicolas Fedor Miku unfairly and gives away a free kick.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +0:08 Half time

Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.

42:26

Free kick awarded for a foul by Kris Commons on Enzo Perez. Pablo Aimar crosses the ball in from the free kick, Fraser Forster makes a save.

40:45

Unfair challenge on Adam Matthews by Nicolas Gaitan results in a free kick. Kris Commons restarts play with the free kick.

39:47

Corner taken by Kris Commons, clearance made by Nicolas Gaitan.

38:40

The referee gives a free kick against Nicolas Gaitan for handball. Direct free kick taken by Mikael Lustig.

37:35

The referee blows for offside. Fraser Forster restarts play with the free kick.

33:49

Pablo Aimar crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, clearance made by Scott Brown.

33:49 Booking

Booking Emilio Izaguirre is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

33:34

Emilio Izaguirre gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Eduardo Salvio.

31:40

Moreno Rodrigo takes a shot. Blocked by Fraser Forster.

29:04

Enzo Perez handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Kris Commons takes the free kick.

27:07

Unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Ezequiel Garay results in a free kick. Kris Commons crosses the ball in from the free kick.

26:38

Nicolas Gaitan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kris Commons. Direct free kick taken by Victor Wanyama.

25:51

Short corner taken by Pablo Aimar from the left by-line.

24:57

The ball is sent over by Nicolas Fedor Miku, Ezequiel Garay makes a clearance.

20:54

Nicolas Gaitan sends in a cross, save by Fraser Forster.

20:09

Pablo Aimar takes the free kick.

20:09 Booking

Booking The referee shows Victor Wanyama a yellow card.

19:57

Enzo Perez fouled by Victor Wanyama, the ref awards a free kick.

17:21

The referee blows for offside against Nicolas Fedor Miku. Guilherme Artur Moraes takes the free kick.

16:32

The ball is swung over by Nicolas Gaitan, Kris Commons manages to make a clearance.

16:07

Pablo Aimar takes a short corner.

15:33

Victor Wanyama gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nicolas Gaitan. Direct free kick taken by Pablo Aimar.

14:35

Corner taken short by Pablo Aimar.

14:12

Andre Almeida crosses the ball, clearance by Mikael Lustig.

12:20

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nicolas Gaitan by Scott Brown. Nemanja Matic takes the free kick.

10:34

Foul by Vieira Jardel on Nicolas Fedor Miku, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed left-footed by Kris Commons from left channel, Ezequiel Garay makes a clearance.

8:14

Ezequiel Garay gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Victor Wanyama. Adam Matthews takes the free kick.

5:14

Scott Brown gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Pablo Aimar. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Pablo Aimar from left channel.

4:32

Foul by Emilio Izaguirre on Andre Almeida, free kick awarded. Guilherme Artur Moraes restarts play with the free kick.

3:49

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons from the right by-line, clearance made by Vieira Jardel.

3:20

Corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons, Lorenzo Melgarejo makes a clearance.

1:27

Drilled left-footed shot by Kris Commons. Ezequiel Garay makes a clearance.

0:56

Free kick awarded for a foul by Moreno Rodrigo on Scott Brown. Mikael Lustig restarts play with the free kick.

0:17

Kris Commons takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.

0:00

The match begins.

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