Al Rayyan leave it late to hold FC Goa in AFC Champions League Round 5


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Qatar’s Al Rayyan managed to score a late equaliser to hold India’s FC Goa to a 1-1 draw in Round 5, Group E of the 2021 AFC Champions League in Goa, India, on Monday.

Tall striker Ali Ferydoon struck the equaliser in the 89th minute after FC Goa had taken the lead through Jorge Ortiz as early as the third minute.

The late leveller was a huge blow for debutants FC Goa, who looked like heading for a historic first win for an Indian club in the tournament’s group stage.

Al Rayyan and FC Goa now have two and three points respectively, and are out of contention for a knockout berth.

Both teams came into the tie with a point to prove after failing to secure a win in their previous four matches, but it was FC Goa who showed more determination from the start.

Brandon Fernandes sent a deep cross from the centre to Ortiz whose effort was blocked by Al Rayyan goalkeeper Saoud Al Hajri. The Spanish midfielder, however, regained possession from Al Hajri’s poor clearance and slotted the ball home from close range to give FC Goa the lead.

Al Rayyan tried to force their way back into the game, Mohammed Alaaeldin finding Naif Al Hadhrami lurking inside the box, but the midfielder’s attempt was foiled by FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh in the 30th minute.

Al Rayyan’s persistence almost paid off in the 37th minute when Khaled Muftah muscled his way into the box, but Dheeraj denied the defender at the near post before stopping Yohan Boli’s free-kick three minutes later.

Ishan Pandita came close to doubling FC Goa’s advantage in first-half added time when his effort from distance almost caught Al Hajri off guard as Al Rayyan were left trailing going into the break.

Abdulrahman Al Korbi could have equalised for Al Rayyan seven minutes into the restart, but his tame effort from inside the box was easily dealt with by Dheeraj.

Al Rayyan increased the intensity of their attacks and captain Yacine Brahimi should have done better in the 53rd minute when he failed to find the target from inside the box off Mowafak Awad’s pass.

FC Goa’s best chance of the second half came in the 72nd minute when substitute Romeo Fernandes teed up Glan Martins at the top of the box but the defender blasted his effort over the bar.

The missed chance was to prove costly for FC Goa as Al Rayyan equalised when Ferydoon steered the ball into the back of the net from close range after a fumble by Dheeraj.

Al Rayyan will play Iran’s Persepolis and FC Goa face the UAE’s Al Wahda in their final group matches on Thursday.