NI League Cup: Holders Linfield beat Cliftonville to reach last four

Cooper secures Linfield semi-final spot

Linfield exacted revenge on Cliftonville as Joel Cooper's goal lifted the Blues to a 1-0 win in their League Cup quarter-final.

After losing their County Antrim Shield quarter-final to the Reds on penalties, Cooper's 10th-minute goal proved the difference at Windsor Park.

Jarlath O'Rourke scored the winner as Crusaders beat Ballymena United 2-1 after extra-time at the Showgrounds.

Coleraine beat Dundela 5-1 while Institute edged out Newry City 1-0.

Cooper strike downs Reds

Linfield delivered the perfect response to Saturday's Irish Premiership defeat by Coleraine as Cooper's strike drove them into the semi-finals at the expense of Paddy McLaughlin's in-form Reds.

Cliftonville's best chance of the night arrived after just three minutes when Joe Gormley failed to beat Gareth Deane in a one-on-one after being put through by Conor McMenamin.

Cooper then whistled an effort just past Richard Brush's post, but unlike Gormley, the Blues forward made amends when he fired home the opener after 10 minutes, pouncing on the ball after Chris Curran's goal-line clearance.

The Blues had the chance to make it 2-0 after 22 minutes when Curran clipped Shayne Lavery in the box. The Northern Ireland international failed to beat Brush from the spot, but the officials failed to spot that Cooper's follow-up clearly crossed the line before Aaron Donnelly cleared.

Linfield had the better of the second-half chances. Substitute Andrew Waterworth, who replaced the injured Lavery, struck the post before Stephen Fallon blazed the rebound over the bar.

Cliftonville could have levelled the score in the 90th-minute but Thomas Maguire saw his shot brilliantly charged down by Matthew Clarke.

Having impressed in their Shield victory at Windsor earlier this month, Cliftonville were disappointing as they slumped to a first defeat in all competitions since 28 September.

Crues overcome Ballymena in extra-time

O'Rourke strikes late to seal semi-final spot

Crusaders got their own cup revenge as O'Rourke's goal with two minutes remaining of extra-time was enough to see off Ballymena 2-1 at the Showgrounds and end the Sky Blues' dream of reaching four finals in a row.

Crusaders spurned an early chance to take the lead as Declan Caddell burst clear from midfield, but he could only shoot tamely at United goalkeeper Jordan Williamson.

At the other end, a shot on the turn from fit-again Ballymena striker Adam Lecky forced a diving save from Sean O'Neill, while the Crusaders stopper produced another fine stop to beat away a well-struck shot by Leroy Millar.

The deadlock was eventually broken six minutes before the interval when Jamie McGonigle fired Crusaders ahead with a spectacular left-footed rising strike into the top corner.

But Ballymena were back level within four minutes of the restart, with Andy McGrory converting from the penalty spot after Crusaders' midfielder Rory Hale was sent-off for handling Jonny Addis' header from a corner on the goal-line.

Despite being down to 10 men, Crusaders fashioned the best chance of the second half when McGonigle set off on a barnstorming counter-attack which took him into the Ballymena penalty area, only for the striker to shoot weakly at Williamson.

The game took another twist with seven minutes left when Adam Lecky was red-carded for Ballymena after reacting to an opponent.

In extra-time, O'Rourke became the unlikely hero as he slid in to meet Ross Clarke's cross and book the north Belfast side's place in the last four.

Doherty treble helps Bannsiders breeze past Dundela

Irish Premiership leaders Coleraine booked their spot in the last four with ease as Ben Doherty's first-half hat-trick lifted them to a 4-1 win over Championship side Dundela.

Doherty opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a looping strike after being played in by James McLaughlin.

The Bannsiders top-scorer doubled the advantage on 19, sweeping home another neat finish to put Oran Kearney's men in a commanding position.

Then came the penalty drama. After Ian Parkhill was fouled in the box, Doherty saw his spot-kick saved by Jonathan Sergeant.

However, moments later, Sergeant brought down Lyndon Kane and Doherty did not repeat his error as he smashed home his penalty to complete the hat-trick.

Dundela came out stronger after the break and pulled one back through Owain Beggs, whose deft touch beat Chris Johns.

But their revival was short-lived as substitute Alexander Gawne added a fourth to wrap up the game for Coleraine.

McCready goal enough for 'Stute

Institute reached the semi-finals for the first time after seeing off Newry City by a single goal at the Showgrounds.

The decisive goal came after nine minutes when leading scorer Joe McCready flicked home after Jamie McIntyre's initial effort had gone through a host of players in the penalty area.

Institute fended off some pressure from the Championship side as they continue their steady progress under new manager Sean Connor.

The draw for the semi-finals will be made on Saturday evening during Radio Ulster's Sportsound programme.

League Cup quarter-finals
Ballymena United1-2 (AET)Crusaders
Newry City0-1Institute

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