Belfast Telegraph

Linfield up the ante in fight for Europe

Glenavon 2 Linfield 3

By Stuart McKinley

Linfield moved level with Glenavon in the fight for third place thanks to a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Mourneview Park.

On a rain-soaked pitch that wasn't conducive to free-flowing football, Linfield took the lead twice in the first half through Kurtis Byrne and Andy Waterworth, either side of Andrew Mitchell's equaliser.

After Bobby Burns levelled for a second time early in the second half, Stephen Lowry struck just two minutes later with the goal that ultimately won the game.

With four games to go, Glenavon's goal difference, which is just four better than Linfield's, keeps them ahead in third, which could bring automatic qualification for the Europa League if Crusaders win the league and Coleraine lift the Irish Cup.

Linfield opened the scoring after just two minutes.

Niall Quinn sent a corner into the box and after Mark Stafford headed goalwards, Byrne flicked the ball into the net.

Sammy Clingan had a free-kick tipped over by his former Northern Ireland team-mate Roy Carroll and the midfielder was behind Glenavon's equaliser in the 24th minute.

He sent a probing ball forward from the halfway line which Josh Daniels met with his head. His knock-down into the centre fell perfectly into the path of Andrew Mitchell and from 10 yards out he tucked the ball under Carroll.

The Blues were ahead again just three minutes later.

Jonny Tuffey punched a corner well out of his box but it was picked up by Linfield's Andrew Mitchell, who played it back to Quinn and his superb cross was glanced home by Waterworth.

Glenavon made the stronger start to the second half, equalising in the 53rd minute.

Linfield lost possession when Andrew Mitchell passed straight to the feet of Daniels midway inside the Blues' half. He slipped a pass forward to Stephen Murray, whose shot hit the legs of Carroll.

Glenavon then switched the play to the left, where James Singleton whipped a low ball into the box to Burns, who fired a powerful shot into the net.

Glenavon found themselves behind again two minutes later.

Lowry met a low cross from the left and after Tuffey had saved his initial effort, he got to the rebound and forced it in.

Five minutes later, a superb save from Tuffey denied Waterworth a fourth Linfield goal.

Glenavon introduced Marc Griffin and Robbie Norton and it was the latter who almost made a telling impact.

The teenage midfielder could only produce a weak shot from Murray's cross on 76 minutes, but three minutes later he collected a flick-on from Mitchell and drove a shot from 25 yards that Carroll had to go full length to his right to tip round the post.

Belfast Telegraph

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