LIEGE, Belgium – Japan wingers shined during their respective Belgian clubs’ victories, with Junya Ito scoring a goal for Genk FC and Kaoru Mitoma scoring for leaders Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.
Ito, the standout performer for Japan as they qualified for their seventh-straight World Cup finals, scored Genk’s third goal during their 5-0 trouncing of Eupen at home as he tapped in Luca Oyen’s cross at the far post a minute into the second half.
Ito had earlier won a penalty after venturing into the box with Paul Onuachu converting after 11 minutes, and his cross was volleyed home by Bryan Heynen for their fourth on 68 minutes. Nigerian Onuachu scored the other two goals, one from another penalty, to bag a hat-trick.
Lively Mitoma, whose two late goals away to Australia on March 24 sealed Japan’s World Cup spot, put the ball on a plate for Casper Nielsen’s third in the 83rd minute as Saint-Gilloise won 3-1 away to Standard Liege.
“It was my first game after international duty. I knew I needed to prove my worth (at the club) for the games ahead,” said Mitoma, who was excited at the prospect of facing World Cup winners Germany and Spain in Qatar later this year.
“Probably it’s the toughest group. Japanese football will evolve if we can get through it,” he said. “I’ll enjoy it while aiming to win.”
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