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2021 AFC Champions League, Group Stage
  • Ali Ferydoon (89')
  • Jorge Ortíz Mendoza (3')

Al Rayyan score late equaliser to deny Goa historic AFC Champions League win

Jorge Ortiz celebrates with his teammates after scoring FC Goa's opener vs Al Rayyan. FC Goa

FC Goa conceded an 89th minute equaliser to finish with a 1-1 draw against Al Rayyan in the AFC Champions League at the Fatorda on Monday.

Goa had gone into the match knowing they had already been eliminated by virtue of Al Wahda's 1-0 victory over Persepolis FC earlier in the day. Goa knew that they had lost the chance to qualify for the Round of 16 of the Champions League, but they certainly still had pride to play for.

A more familiar looking FC Goa side took to the pitch for this game after a heavily changed outfit lost 4-0 to Persepolis on Apr 23. Captain Edu Bedia, Jorge Ortiz, Brandon Fernandes and Dheeraj Singh were among those making their return to the starting eleven.

Goa flew out of the blocks and took the lead just three minutes in. Brandon Fernandes pinged a long ball in behind the opposition's defence, and Jorge Ortiz pounced. After a slip from his marker, Ortiz's first attempt was thwarted by the onrushing keeper, Saud Al Hajiri, but the forward's persistence paid off as he was first to the deflected ball before sliding the ball into the back of the net.

The Laurent Blanc managed Al Rayyan went on the offensive. Dheeraj made a superb point blank save from Yohan Boli. Goa then kept their Qatari opposition at bay for much of the first half, but Dheeraj was forced into action in the 40th minute, as a Boli free kick was punched away to safety.

There was more drama just before the end of the half - an FC Goa counter attack saw Ishan Pandita have a go from near the halfway line, after he spotted the goalkeeper off his line. Al Hajiri, though, saved the shot, comfortably.

Goa defender Ivan Gonzalez bailed his goalkeeper out just moments later, making an important tackle to stop a clear goal-scoring opportunity after a mix up at the back.

The second half brought renewed optimism and yet more of the same in terms of defending for FC Goa, with Dheeraj forced to close down Abdurrahman Al Korbi's effort in the 47th minute as he came out and made himself big.

Goa looked untroubled for much of the half following this effort, and Glan Martins grew in influence as the game went on, even fashioning a chance of his own in the 72nd minute. The midfielder found himself with time and space just outside the box, but his shot on goal flew over the bar when it probably should have been on target from that range.

Seriton Fernandes had another chance in the 86th minute, when he charged into the box on one of his many overlaps. The right-back, though failed to keep his composure at the crucial moment, allowing the Al Rayyan defence to nick the ball off him.

Then in the 89th minute Al Rayyan equalised. This time it was a cross by Abdulaziz Hatem that was spilled by Dheeraj, allowing Ali Farydoon to react quickest and smash the ball home to make it 1-1.

It was heartbreak for a team that was on the verge of becoming India's first ever side to win a game in the AFC Champions League, and as they tried to find a late winner, Dheeraj was forced into one final save.

Deep into stoppage time, Khalid Muftah let fly with a stinging effort, but the defiant Dheeraj kept him out to ensure FC Goa leave with at least a point.

Goa remain third in Group E following this draw, and play their sixth and final AFC Champions League match against Al Wahda on Thursday, 29 April with kickoff scheduled for 10:30 PM.