Bengaluru, April 17: Indian Super League (ISL) group toppers FC Goa impressed once again as they held the formidable Al Wahda from the UAE to a goalless draw in a Group E tie of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa.
The Gaurs return to action in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday (April 20) as they take on Iranian giants Persepolis FC at the Fatorda with kick-off scheduled for 10.30 PM IST.
A more open game than the tournament opener for Juan Ferrando's men, the Men In Orange brought about a few moments of brilliance on both sides of the field to eke out the result.
However, one would be forgiven to think that they deserved more with Brandon Fernandes hitting the upright and Devendra Murgaokar forcing the Al Wahda keeper into a fantastic save.
The Gaurs named an unchanged eleven from the side that started the first game of the tournament against Qatar Stars League outfit Al Rayyan, hoping that a similar or better result could follow this time around too.
Once the game began, FC Goa threatened straight away, with Ishan Pandita making contact from a header following a cross from the left flank. His effort though was not the precise one he was looking for. The early signs though were surely positive.
Al Wahda grew into the half, mounting their first big threat in the 23rd minute. Fares Juma headed a corner towards goal, but Dheeraj Singh comfortably held on as Goa absorbed the pressure.
Jorge Ortiz fired one from distance five minutes later, but his shot was well over the bar and no trouble for Al Wahda.
In the second half, it was the Men in Orange who came out with more gusto, and had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 54th minute of the match.
Dheeraj's heroics continued as he first saved a free kick from opposition captain Ismail Matar in the 78th minute, and then kept out two late efforts in stoppage time.
The young goalkeeper first saved brilliantly from Omar Khirbin in the 90th minute, and was helped out by Seriton Fernandes, who blocked the follow up shot from Lee Myung-joo.
In the end, FC Goa managed to hold on for yet another historic result, and can now boast of an unbeaten start to life in the AFC Champions League.
(With AFC Media/FC Goa inputs)