Soccer

Junya Ito scores in Genk's playoff opener against Anderlecht

Kyodo

Japanese forward Junya Ito scored for Belgian first-division side Genk in their 3-0 championship playoff win over Anderlecht at home on Saturday.

Playing on the right wing at Luminus Arena, Ito intercepted a pass from Anderlecht keeper Thomas Didillon and whipped in a cross deep into the box that Mbwana Samatta headed down for Joakim Maehle to open the scoring in the 32nd minute.

Ten minutes into the second half, Ito dribbled past two defenders into the penalty area and curled a left-footed shot inside the far post to make it 2-0.

“It was important for us to win the first playoff game, and we executed things really well,” said Ito, who joined Genk on loan in January from J. League side Kashiwa Reysol.

“When I had a chance to score, I just felt that if I hit it as well as I could, it would go in.”

Joseph Paintsil wrapped the game up for Genk in the 79th minute, cutting into the box from the right and driving home from an acute angle.

Genk, which finished the regular season on top of the 16-team table, is looking for its first league title in eight seasons.