FC Goa gave a tough fight to Al Wahda with some fine counter-attacking football in the second half as they held the fancied side from the UAE to a goalless draw in the AFC Champions League group stage in Margao on Saturday.
It was the second such result in as many matches for the Goan side, who had also played out a goalless draw against Qatar’s Al Rayyan in their first Group E match on Wednesday.
FC Goa did plenty of defending in the first half but they showed their counter-attacking prowess in the next 45 minutes with at least a couple of chances that could have resulted in a goal.
Brandon Fernandes’ 54th minute strike from a counter-attacking move beat the Al Wahda goalkeeper Al Shamsi but hit the post.
Again in the 69th minute, Devendra Murgaokar, who came in for Ishan Pandita in the 54th minute, received a brilliant long ball from captain Edu Betia. He got the better of a defender and sent a low cross to the face of Al Wahda’s goal but it was cleared after a major scramble.
Devendra had another shot in the 73rd minute but could not find the target.
Young FC Goa goalkeeper Moirangthem Dheeraj Singh had another fantastic performance for the second match in a row as he denied former UAE captain Ismail Matar in the 78th minute and then again saved his side from conceding in stoppage time.
In the first half though, Al Wahda were clearly the dominant side as they threatened FC Goa time and again with veteran Matar in the thick of things on most occasions.
The 37-year-old Matar, who has played more than 130 matches for UAE, dictated terms in the midfield to initiate most of the Al Wahda attacks.
To the credit of FC Goa, they had 47% possession in the first half despite having to defend from their own half for most of the first time.
FC Goa play their third match against last edition’s runners-up Persepolis FC of Iran on Tuesday.
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