Andy Waterworth claimed his first senior hat-trick as Linfield eased to their third victory on the bounce in the Danske Bank Premiership.
Waterworth struck twice in the opening half before adding a third from the spot in the second period to seal another solid win.
It was a spirited performance from the Blues who cast aside the challenge of Ballymena United.
The plight of the visitors was compounded by the sending off of skipper Allan Jenkins for dissent, while substitute Gary Liggett bagged their consolation at Windsor Park.
Ballymena’s misery was contrasted by star man Waterworth’s delight as he celebrated his Premiership debut for Linfield with a clinical treble.
“I am obviously delighted to get on the scoresheet,” said Waterworth – who has just returned from a foot injury.
“It is great to be playing again, but to get a hat-trick is fantastic. I have scored a few braces in my time but never a hat-trick at senior level.”
Waterworth headed home Jamie Mulgrew’s cross in the 10th minute before tapping home another close-range effort nine minutes later.
To their credit Ballymena forged their way back into the game six minutes after the break when Liggett flashed home an unstoppable volley.
The game turned on its head in the 60th minute when visiting goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson tripped Waterworth inside the box.
And the former Glentoran hitman stepped up to confidently record his hat-trick from the spot.
In the aftermath of the penalty decision Ballymena captain Jenkins was shown a straight red card by Hugh Carvill for dissent.
In added time Linfield substitute Rodney Brown forced home a fourth goal after Nelson could only parry Brian McCaul’s cross.
“As I was stepping up for the penalty it sort of dawned on me that I had never scored a hat-trick before,” Waterworth said of his special moment.
“It was definitely a penalty as their keeper caught me.”
Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson shared a different view on the penalty decision, claiming the referee’s assistant admitted there was no foul committed.
“The penalty was the turning point. It was never a penalty and the referee’s assistant told the referee twice that it wasn’t a penalty,” he said.
“In my opinion the referee didn’t have a proper view. As a result we are also down to 10 men with Jenkins’ dismissal.
“The linesman said no twice, and he is looking straight at it.
“That’s frustrating and it has cost us the game.”