Soccer

Junya Ito nets first goal in Belgium as Genk make playoffs

Kyodo

Japanese forward Junya Ito scored his debut goal in the Belgian first division Sunday as league leaders Genk qualified for the championship playoffs with a 3-3 draw at Zulte Waregem.

After setting up a 19th-minute equalizer for Ruslan Malinovskiy to erase an early 1-0 deficit, Ito converted Joakim Maehle’s cross with a left-footed strike in the 39th minute.

Genk widened the lead to 3-1 on a Leandro Trossard goal in the 61st minute and looked ready to end their regular season with a victory, but the visitors conceded two goals in the final 20 minutes.

Still, league leaders Genk confirmed one of six places in the Jupiler Pro League championship playoff from where they will battle for the title and a ticket into Europe.

“I think today’s goal will help me loosen up and play better,” Ito said.

The 26-year-old Ito joined Genk on loan last month from J. League side Kashiwa Reysol.