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Summary

  1. Ballymena United 3-0 Crusaders
  2. Coleraine 1-5 Linfield
  3. Cliftonville 1-3 Glenavon
  4. Dungannon Swifts 4-0 Carrick Rangers
  5. Glentoran 3-0 Portadown

Live Reporting

By Matt Gault and Michael Morrow

All times stated are UK

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Signing off

Until next week

Another week, another immensely exciting day in the Irish Premiership title race. For the first time in recent memory, Crusaders are not sitting pretty at the top of the tree. Linfield have been waiting a long time for their rivals to slip up, and slip up they did at the Ballymena Showgrounds. 

It leaves us eagerly anticipating next week's Premiership climax. It's simple for Linfield: beat Cliftonville at Solitude and they will be champions. There's been countless twists and tuns in recent weeks, though, so it would be unwise to predict such a straightforward Saturday afternoon unfolding at Solitude.

We'll be there to cover it every step of the way but, until then, make sure to check back on the BBC Sport NI website for all of today's goals and highlights. There will be comprehensive analysis on The Irish League Show, too, which will be available on the BBC iPlayer on Monday night. 

What they said

Cliftonville 1-3 Glenavon

Cliftonville interim boss Mal Donaghy reflects on today's performance and Gerard Lyttle's exit on Radio Ulster's Sportsound. 

Mal Donaghy with George McMullan
Press Eye
Mal Donaghy with George McMullan

Gerard phoned me yesterday afternoon and explained the situation and it obviously escalated very quickly from there. It's been a hectic 48 hours and that didn't give us a lot of time to prepare for today. Gerard took training on Thursday but I can hold my hands up and take full responsibility for today's performance because I made a few tweaks which didn't come off. Overall, we're disappointed with the performance.

Mal DonaghyCliftonville interim manager

What they said

Ballymena United 3-0 Crusaders

We're delighted. I thought we were very good all over the park today. Our forwards will get the plaudits and they were awesome, working tirelessly from start to finish, but I also thought Ross Glendinning was exceptional and the final scoreline owes much to his brilliance. We've worked tremendously hard to hard to get into the top six and I'm pleased that we haven't let our season fizzle out. I'll admit that the surface is a disgrace. I said that to Stephen [Baxter] before the game and I know that. The state of the pitch was the reason we didn't go into the break one or two up and hopefully, starting in the summer, efforts will be made to produce a playing surface worthy of Ballymena United.

David JeffreyBallymena United manager
Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey
Press Eye
Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey

What they said

Coleraine 1-5 Linfield

The players were brilliant today. I've been critical at times this season, even when we have won, but they were absolutely outstanding. We showed desire, commitment, character and certainly deserved the win. People have written us off this season, saying we don't have the right attitude, but we've proven otherwise. Crusaders are a top team and we're not counting our chickens yet because it's a big game next week and I'm relishing it. We won't be playing for a draw, we're going there to win, make no mistake about it but I'm expecting a difficult game because with Gerard Lyttle leaving, they'll be expecting a reaction against us.

David HealyLinfield manager
Linfield boss David Healy
Press Eye
Linfield boss David Healy

Irish Premiership - As it stands

Irish Premiership table top six going into the final matches
BBC Sport
Irish Premiership table top six going into the final matches

What they said

Coleraine 1-5 Linfield

When we went a goal down we needed character and we found it in abundance. Going down and coming back to score five was a perfect response from us in the second-half. The stats prove that Cliftonville is a very tough place for us to go and I don't think their recent form or what's happening at their club will have any bearing on next week. We know how good they are, they've beaten us twice this season so we're expecting a difficult game.

Jamie MulgrewLinfield captain

What they said

Ballymena United 3-0 Crusaders

Nobody has spoken in the dressing room yet. We came here with the expectation of taking three points away and we gave it everything we had but Ballymena were up for the fight. I knew this was going to be tough and, unfortunately, the pitch wasn't in satisfactory condition and below Irish League football standards. It's the worst pitch I've seen for a long time but that's no excuse for us. At the end of the day, they've taken their chances and we've shot ourselves in the foot in many ways. Linfield have been relying on teams to do them favours for much of this season now we're relying on someone to do us a favour.

Stephen BaxterCrusaders manager
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter
Press Eye
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter

Praise for 'merciless' Blues

Coleraine 1-5 Linfield

Liam Beckett is particularly effusive in his assessment of Linfield's scintillating second-half performance. 

You can see the relief among the Linfield players because it was so tense at the start of the afternoon. But they deserved the win. I thought Callacher was magnificent in the centre of defence and they held all of the aces in midfield, with Mulgrew and Lowry running the show. Waterworth covered every blade of grass and Smyth was brilliant - he was the one who wreaked havoc on the Coleraine defence.

Liam BeckettRadio Ulster summariser

FULL-TIME

Glentoran 3-0 Portadown

Two goals from Curtis Allen and an Eric Foley free-kick give Glentoran a comfortable win against the already relegated Portadown. 

FULL-TIME

Dungannon Swifts 4-0 Carrick Rangers

Dungannon take another big step towards securing seventh place and that Europa League play-off. First half goals from Andrew Mitchell, Fra Brennan and a brace from Ryan Harpur doing the damage.

Carrick may be forgiven for already having one eye on their own play-off, but they were very soundly beaten today.

FULL-TIME

Ballymena United 3-0 Crusaders

It's all over at the Showgrounds where champions Crusaders have been beaten by Ballymena United for the secnod time this season. Conor McCloskey and Cathair Friel (2) scored the goals in a 3-0 victory for the Sky Blues. Now it is out of Crusaders' hands as they go onto their final game at home to Glenavon next Saturday. Linfield can win their first title since 2012 with victory away to Cliftonville. The Blues have a much better goal difference too so a draw would almost certainly be enough.

Linfield top the table

Linfield manager David Healy
Press Eye
Linfield manager David Healy

GOAL

Ballymena United 3-0 Crusaders

Cathair Friel wraps it up with a third goal for Ballymena in stoppage-time. That's 22 goals for the season now for Friel.

FULL-TIME

Cliftonville 1-3 Glenavon

It's a miserable end to a turbulent week for Cliftonville as Glenavon walk away with all three points. Just to rub salt into the wounds, Ballymena will knock them off fourth place by beating Crusaders. 

FULL-TIME

Coleraine 1-5 Linfield

It's all over! A brilliant, emphatic attacking performance from Linfield sees them brush Coleraine aside and they are top of the table!

Title race turnaround

Three of the goals that have turned the title race on it's head. 

 Linfield goals by Paul Smyth, Aaron Burns (penalty) & Andrew Waterworth  

Three goals that have turned the Title Race on it's head

GOAL

Ballymena United 2-0 Crusaders

Cathair Friel makes it two and Crusaders' title hopes are fading fast. Keeper Sean O'Neill's mistake left Friel with an open goal just outside the box and he gratefully took it.

RED CARD

Dungannon Swifts 4-0 Carrick Rangers

Five minutes from time and TJ Murray is given his marching orders to add insult to Carrick's injury.

GOAL

Cliftonville 1-3 Glenavon

McGrory makes it three for Glenavon as they wrap up the points at Solitude, firing in an unstoppable drive which flies past the despairing glove of Burke. 

Blues blitz

Coleraine 1-5 Linfield

Here are three of Linfield's goals. Coleraine fans, look away!

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GOAL

Coleraine 1-5 Linfield

Waterworth makes it five to complete Coleraine's miserable afternoon! 

Well, that was an interesting sequence. Linfield win a penalty after a handball. Smyth can't convert as Johns saves well. However, it comes back out to Linfield, who work it back in to Waterworth and you know the rest. 

This has descended into a nightmare for Coleraine, who are usually so difficult to break down. They've been well and truly broken by Linfield's ruthless edge, though - this has been a thoroughly impressive display from the Blues!

TENSE TIMES

Coleraine 1-4 Linfield

This game has ended as a contest, which means the Linfield fans are free to frantically refresh their phones waiting for updates from the Crusaders game. 

Timely tackle

Ballymena United 1-0 Crusaders

Great challenge by Kyle Owens denies David Cushley who looked to be in with a chance of making it 1-1. The corner comes to nothing.

'We're gonna win the league'

Coleraine 1-4 Linfield

That's what the travelling band of Linfield supporters can be heard singing from the terraces. 

They've seen four goals from their side but the biggest roar came when news of Ballymena's goal filtered through, which was met with thunderous approval!

The last 20 minutes have been an absolute dream for the Blues, but there's still plenty of time for Crusaders to level it up. They are the comeback specialists, let's not forget. 

GOAL

Coleraine 1-4 Linfield

Waterworth makes sure as he converts from close-range! Surely that's an unassailable lead for Linfield now. 

GOAL

Ballymena United 1-0 Cruaders

Conor McCloskey blasts in for Ballymena and Crusaders are in big, big trouble with 19 minutes to go. As things stand, Linfield will be on top of the Premiership going into the final matches next Saturday. On 17 February champions Crusaders were nine points clear and on track for a third successive Gibson Cup triumph. But now it looks like the destiny of the title will be out of their hands.

Bannsiders look down and out

Coleraine 1-3 Linfield

Somewhat understandably, Coleraine look like they've had the stuffing knocked out of them. Linfield, in stark contrast, are stroking the ball around with rhythm and confidence. 

GOAL

Cliftonville 1-2 Glenavon

Martin Donnelly offers the Reds a glimmer of hope as he pulls one back!

GOAL

Coleraine 1-3 Linfield

Aaron Burns makes no mistake and dispatches into the corner for 3-1! What a cool finish under the pressure from Burns, who may have just made sure of the three points for his side. 

In the space of ten minutes, Linfield have completely turned this around and now enjoy a two-goal cushion. If it stays this way, Linfield will be top of the table with one game left!

PENALTY

Coleraine 1-2 Linfield

Smyth is fouled and Linfield have a spot-kick!

GOAL

Coleraine 1-2 Linfield

Paul Smyth gives Linfield the lead! David Healy's side have turned things around! Niall Quinn powers into the box and reaches the byline before firing it across for Smyth, who sticks a leg out and pokes the ball high into the net. 

How exciting is this!?

GOAL

Cliftonville 0-2 Glenavon

Andy Hall gets his second! Burke makes a catastrophic mistake leaving Hall to finish!

HUGE PENALTY SHOUT!

Coleraine 1-1 Linfield

Linfield are furious. McConaghie hesitates on the ball, something you simply can't do with the razor-sharp Paul Smyth lurking. The Blues man steals possession and is then scythed down. It looks like a certain penalty but the referee waves play on. Not for the first time this afternoon, the Linfield coaching staff are beside themselves on the touchline. 

CLOSE!

Ballymena United 0-0 Cruaders

Declan Caddell should have scored here for Crusaders but completely misses a great chance to head the opener fro a free-kick into the danger area. Caddell holds his hand up, acknowledging he should have made a telling contact from just a few yards out.

GOAL

Glentoran 3-0 Portadown

Curtis Allen puts the game to bed, finishing calmly after Conal Delaney weaves his way between two Portadown defenders and tees up the Glens' top goalscorer.

GOAL

Coleraine 1-1 Linfield

It's the equaliser from Aaron Burns! Coleraine asked the question and my word did they get an emphatic answer!

Burns picks the ball up on the right flank, cuts inside and whips a devilish effort into the box, which beats everyone including Chris Johns and flies straight into the top-corner. 

The Linfield midfielder will surely claim it was a shot a la Paul Konchesky but it looked like an over-hit cross. That's immaterial, though - all that matters is that Linfield are level. 

Aaron Burns grabs Linfield's equaliser

GOAL

Coleraine 1-0 Linfield

McLaughlin does it!

McCafferty delivers a brilliant corner and McLaughlin meets it with a bullet-like header. Unbelievably, his run was not picked up by the Linfield defence. 

What are Linfield made of? We're about to find out. 

James McLaughlin heads the Bannsiders into the lead

Not this time!

Coleraine 0-0 Linfield

You can't fault him for trying! To celebrate the sun making an appearance in the sky, McLaughlin tries his luck from all of 40 yards as he tries to replicate that stunning strike he scored at Seaview earlier this week. This time, unfortunately, the ball sails well wide. 

CLOSE!

Ballymena United 0-0 Cruaders

A great chance for Crusaders at the start of the second half. Midfielder Gavin Whyte was in but keeper Ross Glendinning blocked the shot with his legs

Back underway!

Coleraine 0-0 Linfield

We reconvene at the Coleraine Showgrounds. Even with Crusaders being held at Ballymena you get the feeling that Linfield will have to score at some point in the next 45 minutes to keep their title hopes alive.