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Linfield: 5 Lisburn Distillery: 1: Hot Linfield serve up a treat for fans

By Stuart McKinley

Trying to outdo the Champions League is a big task for any Irish League side, but Linfield ensured that any fans who gave up the comfort of their armchair last night were treated to a display that made their journey worthwhile.

With wall-to-wall European action on a number of television channels, competing with the best in Europe was a huge ask for the Blues.

Many Bluemen are also keen supporters of Rangers and with Walter Smith's side facing Barcelona, many fans might have preferred an evening by the fire.

With the Ibrox clash finishing 0-0, many may have regretted their decision to stay at home after David Jeffrey's side served up a treat to seal their place in the semi-finals of the CIS Insurance Cup.

Local football's third-ranked competition is often much maligned, mainly because it gets in the way of starting the season instead of the more important Premier League campaign, but when it brings the quality of football it did last night, then the tournament is hugely justified.

When Linfield are at their best they can wipe the floor with the rest in Northern Ireland and they put on a five-star and five-goal display to leave Lisburn Distillery reeling.

After Glenn Ferguson's penalty gave the Blues the lead after 11 minutes, they stepped on the gas and the Whites had no answer.

Ferguson may well have scored anyway after collecting Mark Dickson's cross, but he was impeded by Wayne Buchanan and the striker stepped up himself to fire the spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal.

Dickson was instrumental in the second goal too on 33 minutes, although it came from a Distillery mistake.

Peter McCann made a real mess of an attempted cross, the ball broke to Dickson some 30 yards from his own goal and he didn't stop until he got into the Distillery penalty area where he set-up Peter Thompson, who fired home a rocket from 12 yards.

You knew it was going to be one of those nights for Linfield when Michael Gault scored in the opening minute of the second-half. Nothing particularly unusual about the midfielder getting onto the scoresheet, but this was with his left-foot! Fifteen yards from goal he gave Philip Matthews no chance.

Linfield's fourth came from a more recognised source - Ferguson's right foot. He picked up the ball 25 yards out and powerfully drove into the box before unleashing a fierce drive past a helpless Matthews.

The white shirts had all but raised the white flag by then, but the Blues weren't finished.

Noel Bailie came off the bench for arguably his most comfortable 30 minutes in over 900 games in a Linfield shirt.

His defensive partner William Murphy then got in on the scoring act with a classy goal. He broke from the back and played a neat one-two with Dickson before striking a beautiful right-foot shot into the corner of the net.

Buchanan's late consolation for the Whites barely raised a cheer from the visiting fans.

LINFIELD: Mannus, Douglas, Lindsay, Murphy, McShane, Dickson, Gault, Mouncey, O'Kane, Ferguson, Thompson. Subs: Bailie, McCann, Ervin, Stewart, Hogan.

LISBURN DISTILLERY: Matthews, Magee, Ferguson, P McCann, Buchanan, Muir, Kilmartin, R McCann, Waterworth, Allen, Cooling. Subs: Armour, McMenamin, Ward, Youle, Browne.

Referee: Brian Turkington (Belfast)

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