FC Goa have started their AFC Champions League campaign with a 0-0 draw against Qatar's Al Rayyan.
Juan Ferrando gave Ishan Pandita his first start for the club with Jorge Ortiz, Brandon Fernandes and Alexander Romario behind him.
The Laurent Blanc managed Al Rayyan started with more intent, creating an opening as early as in the sixth minute. A loose pass from James Donachie allowed Yacine Brahimi to roar into the Goa box, but the Algerian placed his shot well wide. Goa appeared nervous on the ball in these early stages, misplacing simple passes at the back quite often.
It was another one of those self-inflicted mistakes that led to the Qatari side's next chance. This time Al Rayyan's top scorer this season, Yohan Boli raced into the box and smacked a shot into the side netting.
That, though, acted as a trigger and Goa's defence calmed themselves down thereafter. As the half wore on, Edu Bedia and Glan Martins started seeing more of the ball and thereby influencing the game, moving it away from Goa's defensive third.
Goa's best chance came just before halftime when Romario seized onto a loose ball and shot powerfully at goal - the effort was parried out well by Fahan Younes, for a corner.
The second half started in a similar manner to the first, but turned into a midfield scrap -- which Bedia and Martins were comfortable with for the most part. Goa stayed deep, organized well, and tried to play on the counter. In the 76th minute, they had a penalty shout when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Mohammed Alaaeldin in Al Rayyan's box, but the referee didn't agree with the vociferous Goan appeals.
The last ten minutes was played almost exclusively in Goa's half, the hosts tiring as their much favoured opponents went in search of an elusive winner. They came closest in the 86th minute when Boli was found in space inside the Goa box - only to see his header saved superbly by Dheeraj Singh.
Goa next play on Apr 17 against Al Wahda, with the early kick-off of the day, at 8 PM. Earlier in the day, Al Wahda were defeated 1-0 by last season's ACL finalists Persepolis thanks to a lovely Jalal Hosseini goal.