Belfast Telegraph

Irish League in pictures: Linfield and Crusaders enjoy four goal wins as league leaders slip up

Linfield's Joel Cooper celebrates with Andy Waterworth. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Linfield's Joel Cooper celebrates with Andy Waterworth. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/12/2018 Cliftonville v Crusaders Danske Bank Premiership Crusaders \Manager Stephen Baxter during today's game at Solitude in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/12/2018 Cliftonville v Crusaders Danske Bank Premiership Crusaders Paul Heatley scores during today's game at Solitude in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/12/2018 Cliftonville v Crusaders Danske Bank Premiership Crusaders David Cushley scores during today's game at Solitude in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/12/2018 Cliftonville v Crusaders Danske Bank Premiership Crusaders David Cushley scores during today's game at Solitude in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker Press
Danske Bank Premiership, Solitude, Belfast 26/12/2018 Cliftonville vs Crusaders Crusaders hat trick man Paul Heatley Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, Solitude, Belfast 26/12/2018 Cliftonville vs Crusaders Crusaders Paul Heatley celebrates his third goal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, Solitude, Belfast 26/12/2018 Cliftonville vs Crusaders Crusaders Paul Heatley celebrates his third goal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart celebrates with teammate Daniel Kearns after today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart salutes his teams fans after today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Joel Cooper celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Joel Cooper celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Joel Cooper is congratulated by manager David Healy during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 26-12-18 Linfield v Glentoran - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Joel Cooper is congratulated by manager David Healy during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker - Belfast - -26/12/2018. Picture by Dessie Loughery/Pacemaker Press Ballymena v Coleraine Danske Bank Premiership Ballymenas Johny McMurray celebrates his goal and the equaliser and Ballymenas 3rd in today's game at warden street with Ballymena Ryan Mayse
Pacemaker - Belfast - -26/12/2018. Picture by Dessie Loughery/Pacemaker Press Ballymena v Coleraine Danske Bank Premiership Ballymenas Andrew Burns celebrates his goal and Ballymenas 2nd during today's game at warden street
Pacemaker - Belfast - -26/12/2018. Picture by Dessie Loughery/Pacemaker Press Ballymena v Coleraine Danske Bank Premiership Ballymenas Andrew Burns celebrates his goal and Ballymenas 2nd during today's game at warden street
Pacemaker - Belfast - -26/12/2018. Picture by Dessie Loughery/Pacemaker Press Ballymena v Coleraine Danske Bank Premiership Coleriane Darren McCauley celebrates his goal and Coleraine 3rd during today's game at warden street

Linfield and Crusaders were the big winners of the Boxing Day derbies with four-goal successes while league leading Ballymena United had to score in the last minute to avoid defeat.

Here's all you need to know from a thrilling day's action:

Linfield 4-0 Glentoran

A late flourish put the icing on Linfield's Boxing Day delight as they cruised to victory over Glentoran.

The Blues are now just two points off the top of the table while Glentoran are only five points off the bottom two.

A Jimmy Callacher finish on Kirk Millar's curling free-kick gave the Blues the lead after the tricky Joel Cooper had drawn a foul out of Glens midfielder Conor Pepper.

The Glens held out at the same score before a late collapse let the Blues run away. That began when Linfield broke three-on-two from a Glens corner and Joel Cooper was able to set up Jordan Stewart for a tap-in.

Cooper turned scorer to end the game as a contest, converting Niall Quinn's corner and he was involved in the third, finding Andy Mitchell who teed up Andy Waterworth to finish the 4-0 rout.

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Ballymena United 3-3 Coleraine

Ten man Coleraine spurned a two-goal second half lead to draw against league-leading Ballymena, whose advantage at the top is cut to two points.

Stephen Lowry gave the Bannsiders an early lead with a scuffed shot from the edge of the area that bounced its way into the bottom corner.

Ballymena levelled when Cathair Friel tucked home a penalty after Adam Lecky was brought down by Adam Mullan.

The lead was restored before the half-hour mark as James McLaughlin smashed a half-volley into the bottom corner.

Things turned sour for the striker in the second half, when he was dismissed for a second yellow.

His side went on to double their lead regardless, Ian Parkhill nabbing the goal but just seconds later, Andrew Burns headed in for 3-2.

Then in the final minute of the match, substitute Jonny McMurray drilled into the bottom corner.

Cliftonville 1-5 Crusaders

A Paul Heatley hat-trick helped Crusaders to a stunning 5-1 win at Solitude.

David Cushley ended the day with two goals and two assists as Crusaders smashed their derby rivals at Solitude.

A Cushley penalty opened the scoring and it was two in spectacular style. This time Cushley provide a perfectly-weighed first time pass for Heatley to blast into the top corner.

Another cracker made it three, this time Cushley finding the top corner from from 20 yards out and as if that wasn't bad enough for the home fans, Heatley's second was soon to follow, again from a Cushley assist.

Heatley completed his hat-trick by finishing off a counter-attack before Cliftonville's Rory Donnelly bagged a late consolation.

Dungannon 1-1 Glenavon

Glenavon nicked a last gasp point against a hard-working ten-man Dungannon at Stangmore.

It looked like it might be a long afternoon for the Swifts when Seanan Clucas was given a straight red as the ball hit Rhys Marshall in the face as the Dungannon player returned it for a throw-in.

Glenavon threatened to punish their hosts at the start of the second period but former Dungannon striker Andrew Mitchell missed an open net from just a few yards out after James Singleton's header had been saved.

The Swifts made the most of that reprieve, Grant Hutchinson's classy through-ball matched by Paul McElroy's chipped finish on 70 minutes.

Dungannon stopper Alex Moore stopped another close-range Mitchell effort as well as shots from Jordan Jenkins and Stephen Murray but just when the Swifts could have been forgiven for thinking they'd done enough, Stephen Donnelly struck in the dying embers.

Warrenpoint 2-2 Newry City

Newry City were denied by an injury time equaliser in a thrilling Mourne Ultimatum.

Mark McCabe fired in the opener shortly before the break but by the time the half-whistle had sounded, Danny Wallace had levelled for the hosts.

A Dale Montgomery penalty restored the visitors' advantage with Point's Anto Reilly given a second yellow in the process but one of the day's injury-time goals belonged to Newry and Deane Watters, who bundled home a leveller.

Institute 1-0 Ards

The day's lowest scoring game came at the Brandywell, where a first-half Michael McCrudden penalty was enough to decide a tight game.

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