Kerala edge Goa in a thrilling Santosh Trophy opener

Kerala defeated Goa 3-2 in a thriller Santosh Trophy final round opening game at the Capital Football Arena in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Asif OM, who joined the squad recently as a replacement for Viknesh, netted a 91st minute winning header to give Kerala all three points after an exciting game.

It was Kerala who started the game well and had even had a chance to score in the 6th minute, when Nijo Gilbert entered the penalty box after making a run from the right wing but his shot was parried away by Goan custodian Hansel.

Kerala then took the lead in the 27th minute when Nijo Gilbert successfully converted a penalty. He powerfully placed the ball in the right hand side of the post.

Goa, on the other side, didn’t create many chances in the first 45 minutes. Their only good opportunity in the first half was a cross from defender Nickson, but their striker Trijoy, who was in the box, couldn’t capitalise it.

The second half started with Goa coming close to pulling one back in the 46th minute when Lloyd took advantage of a blunder from Kerala’s centre back Ameen, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Kerala captain and goalkeeper Midhun.

Riswan Ali doubled Kerala’s advantage in the 57th minute when he tapped in a Naresh Bhaghyanathan cross from close range following a corner.

4 minutes later, Goa pulled one back when Mahammad Faheez scored from the spot. Things then started to become fierce when Faheez scored again to complete Goa’s comeback. He tapped the ball into the open net after a cut-back from substitute Akeraj Martins.

But, Kerala scored again in the stoppage time to win all three points from the game, when Asif OM headed the ball home following an excellent cross from Sachu Siby.

Lineups

Goa– Hansel, Jovel, Nickson, Clive, Shallum, Kirtikesh, Ganesh, Trijoy, Harsh, Mahammad Faheez, Lloyd.

Head Coach: Norberto Gonsalves

Kerala– Midhun, Manoj, Ameen, Mohamed, Sanju, Arjun, Hrishidath, Abdu, Riswan Ali, Nijo, Naresh.

Head Coach- Ramesh PB

Player of the match: Riswan Ali

Main Referee: Shantan Agarwal

Also Read: “Our ability to dig deep in tough situations is why we are where we are,” says Mourtada Fall while talking about the squad’s mental toughness

Also Read: IFA announce West Bengal squad for Santosh Trophy final round

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