Bhubaneswar: Kerala scored a thrilling 3-2 win over Goa in the opening match of the Santosh Trophy final round here on Friday.
Nijo Gilbert drew first blood for the defending champions by converting a penalty in the 27th minute of the Group A match.
Rizwan Ali made it 2-0 in the 57th.
Mahammed Faheez pulled one back for Goa on the hour mark by scoring from the spot. He scored his second in the 73rd to draw level for the Goans.
However, Asif O M headed home the winner in the first minute of added time to earn Kerala three points. The Ernakulam player had replaced M Viknesh in the Kerala squad after the latter failed a dope test.
Kerala next meet Karnataka on Sunday (9 am).
Hosts Odisha, Maharashtra and Punjab are the other teams in Group A.
Group B consists of Delhi, Meghalaya, Railways, Services, West Bengal and Manipur.
The top two from each group will advance to the semifinals.
The knockout stage will be held in Saudi Arabia.