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George McMullan (23)
Rory Donnelly (50)
Rory Donnelly (72)
Stephen Garrett (88)

4

Billy Joe Burns (66)
Mark McAllister (90 3)

2

Stephen Garrett celebrates knocking home Cliftonville's fourth goal (Picture: Brian Little/PressEye.com)

CLIFTONVILLE 4-2 LINFIELD

CLIFTONVILLE moved in front on 23 minutes very much against the run of play when, in a rare attack, George McMullan forced the ball home at the back post.

Linfield almost went in at the break on level terms, though, only for a Stephen Douglas effort to be cleared off the line by Rory Donnelly.

And the pair were involved in Cliftonville's second goal five minutes after the break after Donnelly pounced on a horrendous Douglas back pass to lift the ball over a stranded Alan Blayney.

Linfield pulled one back on 66 minutes through Billy Joe Burns - only on the pitch sixty seconds - following a goalmouth scramble.

Burns then came close within three minutes of grabbing the equaliser with a stinging 15-yard effort which seriously tested John Connolly.

But any hopes of staging a comeback were shattered in spectacular fashion three minutes later when Rory Donnelly knocked home his second of the game with a remarkable 30-yard curling effort into the top corner after he had turned Douglas.

Cliftonville added a fourth with two minutes remaining through Stephen Garrett - a former Linfield striker - who beat Blayney to a Ciaran Caldwell cross.

Mark McAllister did pull one back for the Blues in stoppage time after beating the offside trap to fire low beyond Connolly but it was scant consolation for the league leaders.

Referee:

Attendance: 1758

Tags:  Cliftonville  Linfield