Belgian First Division wrap: Genk, Mechelen start in style

Reigning champions Genk kicked off their defence of the Belgian First Division title with a 3-1 win over Beerschot on Saturday.An own-goal from Beerschot’s Croatian defender Tomislav Mikulic gifted hosts Genk a 1-0 lead 20 minutes into the match at the Cristal Arena.

Israel forward Elyaniv Barda then doubled the lead on 32 minutes, and just three minutes later David Hubert netted to make it 3-0, effectively ending the match as a contest with 55 minutes still remaining.

Uruguayan Gary Kagelmacher pulled one back for the visitors from the penalty spot with 15 minutes to go, but it proved no more than a consolation.

Also on Saturday, Mechelen joined Genk on three points following a 2-1 win at home to Sint-Truiden.

French midfielder Julien Gorius struck the winner for Mechelen with five minutes remaining after Sint-Truden’s Gregory Dufer had cancelled out Boris Pandza’s opener.

In other matches, Jelle Van Damme’s second-half equaliser secured a point for Standard Liege as they drew 1-1 away to Mons.

Gambian Ebrahima Savaneh had put the home side ahead three minutes before half-time.

Kortrijk also drew 1-1 in their match at home to Lierse.

The visitors led from the 17th minute courtesy of Milos Maric’s opener.

Kortrijk went a man down when Cameroonian Ernest Webnje Nfor was shown a red card just five minutes into the second half.

But the 10-man hosts still managed to produce an equaliser through Brecht Capon’s penalty on 54 minutes.

Cercle Brugge struck late to take all three points in their match away to Gent.

Ukrainian Oleg Iachtchouk hit the winner for Cercle in the 80th minute of the match, just two minutes after Gent were reduced to 10 men.

Defender Valery Nahayo, who joined from South African outfit Kaizer Chiefs earlier this month, was the man to go, shown a second yellow card on his league debut for the club.

Elsewhere, Lokeren were held 0-0 at home by Zulte-Waregem.