Two second half goals from Omar Khribin and Mohammed Barqesh gave Al-Wahda their fourth win of the campaign to send them to the next round of the competition.
FC Goa finished their maiden ACL campaign with a loss against Al-Wahda at the Fatorda stadium on Thursday. FC Goa custodian Dheeraj singh kept it goalless until Omar Khribin broke the deadlock in the 61st minute. Mohammed Barqesh sealed the three points for the UAE side with a late strike in the 90th minute. The Gaurs came into the pitch with an all Indian line up as their overseas contingent and Spanish head coach Juan Ferrando were allowed to leave the country because of the COVID-19 situation.
Omar Khirbin sent the ball past Dheeraj Singh just after the hour mark. Tim Matavaz stole the ball from Glan Martins and ran into the Goan penalty box and delivered a fine cut-back to Khirbin, who placed the ball to the left of Dheeraj to make it 1-0 for Al-Wahda.
Few minutes after the goal, Dheeraj was replaced with Naveen Kumar. The youngster was injured in a collision with his own defender. The Goan defence lost the ball in front of their own goal and the Al-Wahda captain Barqesh made it 2-0 towards the end of regulation time.
The Gaurs didn’t create any clear cut chances, but defended very well until the first goal. Dheeraj continued his exceptional form in the ACL campaign. The Manipuri goalkeeper made a number of saves to deny the Al-Wahda attackers until he had to leave the pitch. Al-Wahda had the bulk of the ball possession and patiently waited for the Goan defense to open up. Both the goals were scored from defensive mistakes.
FC Goa finished their maiden ACL campaign with 3 points from 6 games. They finished third in Group E with only Al-Rayyan behind them with 2 points. Persepolis FC topped the group with 15 points after their 4-2 win against Al-Rayyan earlier in the day. Al-Wahda finished in second position with 13 points, and went through to the next round as one of the three best second placed team in the Group stage.
The Gaurs who started the campaign with two gritty draws against Al-Rayyan and Al-Wahda lost the next two matches against Iranian champions Persepolis FC. A late equaliser denied them their first win against Al-Rayyan in their fifth game. Nevertheless, the Indian club gave a good account of themselves to punch above their weight in their debut ACL campaign. It must have been a great learning curve for the Indian players to rub shoulders against the best in the continent.