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'Excellent' Shayne Lavery hailed as Linfield earn 'statement' win over chasers Larne

Mulgrew hails title statement after Linfield floor Larne in Windsor showdown


Shayne Lavery celebrates at the finish

Shayne Lavery celebrates at the finish

Shayne Lavery celebrates at the finish

A Shayne Lavery masterclass against Larne ensured Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield got their title defence back on track last night.

The Northern Ireland international bagged a double in a 2-1 win at Windsor Park to fire the Blues six points clear of the second-placed Invermen.

Linfield suffered a last-gasp loss to Big Two rivals Glentoran on Tuesday but they hit back in style.

Jeff Hughes scored late on for the visitors but David Healy's side sealed a deserved victory.

Linfield skipper Jamie Mulgrew said: "It's a massive three points, coming after our disappointing results and the criticism which is fair because we haven't reached the levels we should.

"We needed to get back on the horse and make a statement.

"Larne are challengers and we knew how difficult this game would be. They have a strong squad but we got the result to stay on top of the league.

"Shayne has been hard on himself but you can never criticise his workrate and I'm delighted he got two goals."

Healy said: "I'm pleased and proud. The players kept going and deserve huge credit, especially after the loss against Glentoran.

"Physically, the players were immense. Shayne was excellent, I'm a big fan of his and he's still learning."

Lavery blasted the Blues in front from the penalty spot on 29 minutes after Dean Jarvis had chopped down the front man with a reckless challenge.

Linfield felt they should have been awarded another spot-kick after Fuad Sule crashed into Joel Cooper.

In an entertaining first half, both keepers were tested with Chris Johns denying Dylan Mottley-Henry and Ronan Hale while Conor Devlin foiled Kirk Millar.

Larne's challenge faded in the second half and after Stephen Fallon missed a decent chance, Lavery lashed home his second on 73 minutes. Hughes netted a minute before the end of normal time but there was no fightback.

Belfast Telegraph

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