Irish Premiership: Blues beat Swifts to move eight points clear at top

Despair and joy as Joel Cooper celebrates his goal against the Swifts
Despair and joy as Joel Cooper celebrates his goal against the Swifts

Linfield extended their advantage at the league summit thanks to a 2-0 win in the top versus bottom match against Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park.

Joel Cooper fired in the opener in a dominant Blues display and Shayne Lavery smashed home to complete a superb team move and double the lead.

Kirk Millar was twice denied by the woodwork and Linfield also had two goals ruled out.

Michael Carvill hit the post as the Swifts threatened late in the game.

David Healy's men are now eight points clear of second-placed Coleraine after clocking up a fourth straight win - all at Windsor with 16 goals scored and not one conceded.

Millar set the tone for a one-sided affair with an audacious shot which skimmed the bar after just three minutes.

Opportunities squandered

Cooper headed in but it was ruled out for a push while Jordan Stewart and Jimmy Callacher wasted good openings from excellent Millar deliveries.

The deserved breakthrough finally arrived on 41 minutes with a clever Cameron Palmer dummy setting up Cooper to rifle low inside the post from 16 yards.

Millar saw his free-kick smash off the post on the restart and Stewart followed up to net only to be flagged for offside.

A battle for the ball between Linfield striker Shane Lavery and Swifts stopper Roy Carroll
A battle for the ball between Linfield striker Shane Lavery and Swifts stopper Roy Carroll

Lavery followed up his hat-trick against Carrick on Saturday with another cracking finish after 52 minutes.

A wonderful team goal started with Niall Quinn sending Cooper through and his pinpoint cross was hammered home by the Northern Ireland forward past Roy Carroll.

Lavery and Mark Haughey went close to adding a third before gifting chances to a Swifts side who created next to nothing in the game.

Chris Johns failed to collect from a corner, resulting in Millar having to clear off the line from Rhyss Campbell's shot.

It was quickly followed by former Blues striker Carvill capitalising on another defensive error and fizzing a shot against the post.

Lorcan Forde also missed out after dispossessing Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew but the leaders, who continued to threaten at the other end, managed to earn another clean sheet.

Linfield manager David Healy said: "We more than deserved the victory and we played some good stuff.

"It's a positive result and credit to the players - you are not always going to get the polished performances we got in the previous two games."

Dungannon boss Dean Shiels said: "We're not happy losing but I'm pleased with how we went about the game.

"I saw a lot of good things that we could improve on and help us move forward."

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