BRUSSELS – A hat-trick from striker Yuta Toyokawa saved Belgian side Eupen from relegation on the final day of the league in a vital 4-0 win Sunday over Royal Excel Mouscron.
The 23-year-old, who joined the club on loan from English side Leeds United in January, scored in the 73rd, 80th and 89th minutes after coming on as a substitute 12 minutes into the second half.
The win moved Eupen from the bottom of the Belgian Pro League table ahead of Mechelen by a single goal, ensuring its survival in the top division.
Toyokawa opened the scoring with a header from the middle of the box after connecting with a long free kick from playmaker Luis Garcia. He then turned provider for Garcia, setting up the Spaniard’s 76th-minute goal with an assist from inside the box.
Toyokawa’s second goal also came from a header, nodding home off a corner after breaking free from his marker. He brought up his hat-trick from right in front of goal after dispossessing defender Christophe Diedhiou as the Senegalese international attempted a clearance.
A former Japan under-23 international, Toyokawa entered the J. League with Kashima Antlers in 2013, but was loaned out to second-division Fagiano Okayama in 2016, where he had 18 goals in 73 games.
The win helped Eupen climb from the bottom of the Belgian Pro League table past Mechelen on goal difference. It remains three points behind Mouscron and must make up a four-point gap on 15th-placed Lokeren to move out of the relegation zone.
In other action in Europe, Takashi Usami scored in the 88th minute to help Fortuna Dusseldorf beat MSV Duisburg 2-1 away in the German second division.