Irish Premiership: Linfield 2-5 Crusaders

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Irish Premiership highlights: Linfield 2-5 Crusaders

Crusaders put five goals past shell-shocked league champions Linfield at Windsor Park on Monday to move into third place in the Irish Premiership.

Paul Heatley's early strike was doubled by a Mark Stafford own goal before the defender scored at the right end.

Gavin Whyte made it 3-1 but Aaron Burns' goal briefly gave Linfield hope.

However, another own goal, this time by Jimmy Callacher, and a Philip Lowry strike saw Linfield leak five goals at home for the first time since 1994.

Crusaders bossed the first half with the home side subdued in what was their first home game since mid-September after six games on the road.

Heatley broke the deadlock after 22 minutes when Billy Joe Burns found him on the edge of the area and he swept it into the far corner for his eighth goal of the season.

The Crues doubled their lead 11 minutes later, Mark McChrystal drilling an inviting cross into the box where Stafford stuck a leg out and directed the ball into his own goal.

Linfield got themselves back into it when Stafford atoned for his error - his glancing header from Kirk Miller's corner giving them a lifeline.

Linfield defender Mark Stafford cancelled out his own goal with a glancing header at Windsor Park
Linfield defender Mark Stafford cancelled out his own goal with a glancing header at Windsor Park

But Crusaders restored their two-goal advantage just before the interval through the excellent Whyte, who squeezed a left-footed shot past Roy Carroll after Matthew Snoddy's shot cracked off the bar.

Linfield needed a bright start to the second half and they got it when Burns' header dragged them back into it, before the Blues almost levelled when McChrystal cleared Matthew Clarke's shot off the line.

Crusaders withstood the pressure before hitting two late goals to kill off the match.

Whyte's cross was deflected in by Callacher and Whyte was again involved in the fifth, his cut-back to Lowry condemning Linfield to a third league defeat in a row - and a first at Windsor Park since January.

"To come to the home of the champions and score five goals is pleasing but it's the three points that counts," said Crusaders boss Steve Baxter.

"Linfield were the stand-out team from Christmas last year, and sometimes it swings a bit like that in football. It was a good victory for us and we will enjoy it but we won't get carried away."

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