FC Goa lost their maiden AFC Champions League campaign as Iranian powerhouse Persepolis FC inflicted a 2-1 defeat on the Gaurs on Tuesday at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.
Goa took an early lead thanks to a well-placed Edu Bedia header from a Brandon Fernandes free-kick. However, the joy for Juan Ferrando's men would be short-lived, as Persepolis scored twice within the opening half an hour to script their third win on the trot in the tournament. The Gaurs made a couple of changes to their starting eleven for this game, with Saviour Gama and Adil Khan getting the nod. In an all-action start to the game, FC Goa came off the blocks the quickest, scoring in the 13th minute as Edu Bedia, who had earlier earned the free-kick, outfoxed the Persepolis defence with a smart run and headed-finish to put the Gaurs in the lead.
Edu Bedia scored the first AFC Champions League goal by an Indian team when he nodded in Brandon Fernandes' free-kick in the first half. A couple of minutes later, it could have been 2-0 to the Gaurs with Edu Bedia and Brandon Fernandes again combining delightfully 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 made 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 his side.
Playing in their home red, Persepolis turned up the pressure on the Goa defence following their equaliser. That pressure finally bore fruit in the 24th minute of the game as Seyed Jalal Hosseini's header put the designated home side in front.
The second half saw Persepolis create a number of chances yet again, but were thwarted on each occasion thanks to some excellent rear-guard action from the FC Goa defence.
The Gaurs, on their end, were able to conjure up some promising spells where Juan Ferrando's men entrusted their passing and movement to find spaces as they searched for an equaliser. They, though, had to settle for only one shot on target in the second forty-five as their first loss of the campaign finally became an eventuality.
FC Goa would, though, take much 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.