Andrew Waterworth hits four against Dungannon Swifts as Linfield go nine points clear at top
Linfield cruised to a five-star victory at Dungannon - with Andrew Waterworth scoring four.
The striker provided a clinical edge to some sparkling Blues play in a one-sided game at Stangmore Park.
Waterworth had Linfield 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, going on to score two more in the second half.
This win moves the Blues nine points clear at the top, although Ballymena have still to play this afternoon.
But it was a sobering night for the Swifts, who have lost four of their last five games.
David Healy’s men were quickly down to business at Stangmore Park.
Waterworth had them in control with two goals inside 10 minutes.
The first came in the sixth minute and followed great work down the right wing from Jordan Stewart.
He delivered a superb cross and Waterworth timed his run to meet it with a downward header.
And the same two combined four minutes later for number two.
Stewart ran on to a ball from midfield and squared to Waterworth, who slotted home, with home defenders appealing in vain for an offside flag.
Dungannon were shaken, but it didn’t get any better for their fans.
Linfield went 3-0 up in the 25th minute.
Andrew Mitchell’s free-kick found Callacher at the back post, and the defender got above his marker to head in.
Not even half an hour had gone, and the game was already beyond the Swifts.
They had a couple of half chances towards the end of the half.
Douglas Wilson saw a free-kick from a promising position fly over, while a looping shot from Paul McElroy was into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Linfield continued to press home their dominance in the second half.
They made it 4-0 in the 57th minute as Waterworth grabbed his hat-trick.
A corner from Chris Casement wasn’t cleared, Linfield kept the ball alive and Callacher headed it on for Waterworth to score.
Waterworth got his fourth - and Linfield’s fifth - in the 72nd minute.
This time it was Daniel Kearns with the set-up, crossing into the box, and once again Waterworth was there to apply the finishing touch from close range.
He then departed to applause from the visiting fans and a pat on the back from grateful boss David Healy.
The hosts nearly pulled one back in the closing minutes.
Sub Rhyss Campbell’s effort was flicked on by Jarlath O’Rourke, but goalkeeper Gareth Deane kept it out.
It summed up a poor night for Dungannon, who had never recovered from that awful start.
At 5-0 down and the game long gone, they were only too glad to hear the final whistle.
The result leaves Linfield well ahead of second placed United and if the Blues win the game between the two in two weeks the league title is heading back to Windsor.
DGN SWIFTS: Moran, Lowe, Hegarty, Armstrong, O’Rourke, Teggart, Wilson, Smyth (Lafferty, 58), Patton (Campbell, 77), McElroy, Hughes (Carvill, 75)
Subs not used: Addis, McGinty, Hutchinson, Ferrin
LINFIELD: Deane, Casement, Robinson, Callacher, Quinn, Stewart (Millar, 76), Mulgrew, A Mitchell (Fallon, 71), Cooper, Kearns, Waterworth (Cervenka, 76)
Subs not used: C Mitchell, Stafford, Clarke, McGivern
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)