Bambolim (Goa), March 15 (IANS) Kerala rode Joby Justin's hat-trick to beat Railways 4-2 in their opening Group B match of the Santosh Trophy national football championship here on Wednesday.
Captain P. Usman completed the tally for Kerala, while Railways' Malayali player Rajesh netted both their goals.
It was Railways who drew first blood as Rajesh scored in the 17th minute making the most of a defensive lapse.
However, Joby restored parity for Kerala just four minutes later with a header. The striker put Kerala ahead in first-half injury time by converting a free-kick.
Joby completed his hat-trick in the second half, before Usman made it 4-1 with another header. Rajesh netted his and Railways' second goal but it was too little too late.
Meanwhile, at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, Punjab and Mizoram played out a goalless draw that did both of their chances no harm.
Playing their first game in the tournament, Mizoram would have been happy with a point in their first game while for Punjab, after a win in their opening game, a draw in this game consolidated second place in the group and they remain in contention for a semi-final berth.