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Persepolis hand FC Goa their first AFC Champions League loss

Wednesday - April 21, 2021 4:09 pm , Category : SPORTS
Panaji, April 21 (IANS) After two gallant draws, FC Goa lost their third game in the AFC Champions League Group Stage campaign to Iranian powerhouse Persepolis FC 1-2 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
The Indian Super League (ISL) club, which is making a maiden appearance in the prestigious continental football tournament, took the lead early, thanks to a well-placed Edu Bedia header from a Brandon Fernandes free-kick on Tuesday.
However, the joy for Juan Ferrando's men was short-lived, as Persepolis scored twice within the opening half hour to script their third win on the trot in the tournament.
The Goan outfit made a few of changes to their starting eleven for the game, with Saviour Gama and Adil Khan getting the nod.
In an all-action start, FC Goa came off the blocks the quickest, scoring in the 13th minute when captain Edu Bedia, who had earlier earned the free-kick, outfoxed the Persepolis defence with a smart run and headed home to put his team in the lead.
With this goal, nodded home following a Brandon Fernandes free-kick, Edu Bedia created history, as this was the first AFC Champions League goal by an Indian team.
A couple of minutes later, it could have been 2-0 with Edu Bedia and Brandon Fernandes again combining well to open up the opposition defence. Brandon, though, was denied his time under the spotlight as Hamed Lak pulled off an incredible save from close range to keep his side in the game.
The Iranian side made FC Goa pay for not making the most of the opportunity as they hit back to draw level in the 16th minute after James Donachie was deemed to have committed a foul in the penalty box. Mehdi Torabi stepped up to the plate for Persepolis to slot it home for the equaliser.
Persepolis turned up the pressure on the Goa defence following the equaliser. That pressure finally bore fruit in the 24th minute as Seyed Jalal Hosseini's header put the Iranian outfit in front.
The Iranian side again threatened with their sharp movement and passes and nearly increased the lead in the 39th minute but the in-form Dheeraj Singh thwarted Vahid Amiri's strike after Persepolis had sieved through the Goan defence one more time.
Dheeraj again came up trumps for FC Goa a few minutes later, this time saving Hossein Kanani's strike from the spot which was low, hard and straight down the middle.
The second half saw Persepolis create a number of chances but were thwarted on each occasion by some excellent rearguard action from the FC Goa defence.
FC Goa would take heart from their spirited display before taking on the same opponents in three days' time.
Juan Ferrando's men currently stand third in the group after Al Wahda completed a come-from-behind win to defeat Al-Rayyan.

--IANS akm/sdr/