FC Goa had a settle for a point in their fifth AFC Champions League Group E encounter against Qatar’s Al Rayyan as they conceded towards the death and were held to a 1-1 draw in Margao on Monday. Jorge Ortiz found the back of the net with a fantastic goal as early as the third minute but just a slight miss in concentration in the 89th minute meant Ali Ferydoon scored one for Al Rayyan, helping them draw level. Had FC Goa won, it would have been historic as they would have been the first Indian team to have won an AFC Champions League game in the current format.
FC Goa had two great chances in the second half to put the game to bed but were unable to do that and were punished by the Qatar side. Dheeraj Singh made a match-saving save in the fifth minute of stoppage time to enable FC Goa to get a draw.
Just before Al Rayyan got their goal, Devendra Murgaonkar went through on goal with a brilliant first touch but was unable to finish the move as he took a touch too many.
Ortiz was the player of the match for his tireless effort on the pitch despite an injured nose. He played the entirety of the goal with a bandaged nose, scored a goal and created numerous opportunities for the Indian club.
FC Goa came into the match at the back of a deflating 4-0 loss to Persepolis but coach Juan Ferrando had made a number of changes in that game to keep his players fresh for the last two games against Al Rayyan and Al Wahda. That showed in the match on Monday when FC Goa had the intent, they wanted to go for a win.
Just like most of the other games, FC Goa held their shape very well. The spacial awareness of the players was very good and they managed to frustrate Al Rayyan. In the third minute, Ortiz got to the end of a long through ball from Brandon Fernandes. A touch from him took it past the onrushing keeper and he slotted the ball home.
After scoring early on, they managed to keep Al Rayyan quiet for the majority of the first half. However, towards the end of the first 45 minutes, Al Rayyan went hard for a goal and it was the astuteness of Dheeraj Singh and the back four that FC Goa did not concede. Captain Edu Bedia played a major role in the defensive role he had just ahead of the back four.
Both full backs in Seriton Fernandes and Sanson Pereira put up a good show. James Donachie looked nervy at times but beside Ivan Gonzalez, they held the fort.
In the second half as well, Al Rayyan tried hard to score but FC Goa were up to the task. Bedia, Seriton and Dheeraj were tall denying Al Rayyan at every step of the way. Dheeraj thwarted six attempts from Al Rayyan, showing how much he has improved once again.
As Al Rayyan put immense pressure on FC Goa, Dheeraj and Donachie came in each other’s way in the 89th minute and the heartbreaking goal was scored.
After the game, FC Goa remain third with three points from five matches while Al Rayyan are last with two points from as many games. The group is led by Persepolis with 12 points in five matches and Al Wahda are second with 10 points.