Ali Ferydoon scored an 89th-minute equalizer against the Gaurs and the French manager was content to have avoided defeat.

Al Rayyan arrested their three-game losing streak in the AFC Champions League with a 1-1 stalemate againsst FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium. Ali Ferydoon came off the bench to cancel out Jorge Ortiz’s early opener in the penultimate minute of normal time to earn the Qatari outfit their second point of the campaign. Even though the Lions have already been eliminated from the competition, head coach Laurent Blanc was happy to have avoided another defeat.

“I think it’s very difficult to take a point against a side like Goa,” said the French coach. “But, I’m happy for my players.

“To lose to Goa is very difficult to accept, but we never quit and responded with a late goal. Even though it’s just a draw, we still got an important point.”

Importance of draw

Despite late pressure from Al Rayyan, the Gaurs held firm and were agonizingly close to securing a historic victory. However, a mistake from Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem allowed Ferydoon to steal a late equalizer. The draw means that Juan Ferrando’s side, who’re also out of the race for a place in the last 16, continue to remain winless in the competition.

“It was important for us to get at least a point from the match as a defeat would’ve been detrimental,” said Laurent Blanc. “But, my players never gave up hope.”

On changes in XI

The former Paris Saint-Germain manager ringed in the changes, as some first-team stars were missing. But, he justified the rotation sighting fatigue and suspensions. “I made some changes as it’s important to keep my players fit,” he said. “We have a tight schedule and some players are fatigued. We also had some players suspended too (Ahmed Abdelmaqsoud and Franck Kom). So, it’s important to give others a chance too.

“Some players in my squad are just 18 or 19-years old. They need more game-time. So, tonight, I put five new players in my XI. I’m happy for them. But, for the next match? I can’t say. We’ll have to evaluate the condition of our players,” he concluded.

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