Photo Credits: AFC
A tired and jaded FC Goa were humbled 0-4 by Persepolis at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Friday as the Iranian champions moved within touching distance of the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 stage.
The Islamic Republic of Iran side’s fourth consecutive win means they have a five-point lead at the top and avoiding defeat against Al Wahda of the UAE on Monday will seal the 2020 AFC Champions League runners-up their place in the Round of 16 as the Group E winners with a match to spare.
Persepolis dominated the early proceedings against an FC Goa side that started with five changes from the team that lost 2-1 to the Iranians on Matchday Three. Coach Juan Ferrando opted to rest goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, and midfielders Jorge Ortiz, Brandon Fernandes and Glan Martins while captain Edu Bedia - who scored against Persepolis on Tuesday - missed the match through suspension.
The Indian Super League side, however, got the first look at goal seven minutes in but forward Devendra Murgaokar sent his header wide. Isa Alkasir should have put Persepolis ahead in the 23rd minute off a Mehdi Shiri cross into the box but the Persepolis striker couldn’t find the target.
FC Goa tried to keep the Iranians at bay but their efforts fell flat a minute later when Amarjit Singh lost possession, with goalkeeper Naveen Kumar unable to stop Shahriyar Moghanlou’s shot from settling in the net. Naveen Kumar was under pressure again when he brought down Alkasir inside the box, with Mahdi Torabi sending the FC Goa goalkeeper the wrong way to give Persepolis a 2-0 lead going into the break.
The lead was widened further two minutes into the restart as Moghanlou turned provider, sending a deep cross from the left flank to Alkasir, who charged into the box before coolly slotting home. Persepolis added to FC Goa's misery when they made it 4-0 after Kamal Kamyabinia thumped his effort into the back of the net in the 58th minute after Ali Shojaei’s header off a corner was blocked by the home side’s defenders.
While Persepolis will look to confirm their Round of 16 spot against Al Wahda on Monday, FC Goa will target the first win of their debut campaign when they play Qatar's Al Rayyan SC.
Al Wahda win
Earlier, Omar Khribin’s second-half penalty earned UAE's Al Wahda a 1-0 win over nine-man Al Rayyan on Friday to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the knock-out rounds from Group E.
Khibin converted from the spot 19 minutes from time to give Henk ten Cate’s side victory and move the club from Abu Dhabi on to seven points from their first four games of this year’s campaign.
The win was Al Wahda’s second in three days over the Qatari side and came after Ahmed Abdul Maqsoud and Franck Kom had both been sent off for Laurent Blanc’s team before the 2017 AFC Player of the Year scored the game’s only goal.
A tame first half was largely devoid of the drama that marked the last 30 minutes of the teams’ previous encounter on Wednesday when Al Wahda scored three times to win that match, although everything changed during first half injury time when Maqsoud was sent off.
Tim Matavz had come closest to opening the scoring when the Slovenian striker unleashed a volley from outside the area in the 24th minute that Fahad Younis was forced to palm over the bar. Ten minutes later Fares Jumaa, who had scored a dramatic winner for Al Wahda in the previous encounter, attempted to direct a header towards goal, only for his effort to be well off target.
But the game changed as time ticked towards the interval when Abdulla Anwar attempted to skip past Maqsoud, only for the defender to lean on the forward as he tried to sprint past and, as a result of the foul, referee Ahmed Al Ali showed the red card.
Al Rayyan survived unscathed until the last 20 minutes, but their hopes of holding on for a draw ended when Kom was judged to have fouled Jumaa in the area and Al Ali pointed to the spot. After booking the Cameroonian defender for his initial foul, the referee pulled out a second yellow card for Kom for dissent to send him to the changing rooms and leave Al Rayyan with nine players on the field.
Khrbin stepped up to confidently strike the penalty into the corner of Younis’ goal to give Al Wahda the win and, in the process, end Al Rayyan’s hopes of progressing to the next phase of the competition.
Ismaeil Matar’s sending off in injury time at the end of the game took some of the gloss off the win for Al Wahda, who next face group leaders Persepolis on Monday.