CLIFTONVILLE 3 LINFIELD 3
Six goals, three red cards and a missed penalty – Solitude witnessed a Premiership classic as Cliftonville and Linfield shared the points.
Trailing 2-0 at the break, the Reds replied with three unanswered goals to claim the lead.
But with eight minutes remaining, Linfield substitute Aaron Burns popped up to rifle home the Blues’ equaliser.
Linfield also had defender Sean Ward sent off for a foul on Chris Curran which led to Cliftonville being awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute – but George McMullan had his spot-kick saved by Ross Glendinning.
The Reds also had Eamonn Seydak sent off for two bookings in the second minute of stoppage time, while Caoimhin Bonner saw red after the final whistle.
It was a thriller in north Belfast that could have gone either way.
Cliftonville were let down by some lacklustre defending as Linfield eased into a 2-0 lead by the break.
The opening goal arrived in the 16th minute when David Kee ghosted into the box to nudge Matthew Clarke’s low cross past Conor Devlin from eight yards.
Cliftonville’s disappointment was compounded by the enforced substitution of striker Davy McDaid in the 23rd minute with a foot injury, and seconds later the Reds found themselves 2-0 down.
Stephen Lowry was the provider, curling in a precise corner for Haughey to head home at the near post – the home defence caught napping.
Andy Waterworth could have added to the tally in the final minute of the half, but after being sent clear on goal the striker could only slice his shot woefully wide.
Waterworth spurned another glorious chance in the 48th minute, this time dragging his shot across the face of goal from the right side of the box.
It would prove vital as Cliftonville turned the game on its head with three unanswered goals.
Marty Donnelly pulled one back in the 50th minute with a low shot from the edge of the box that squeezed into the net after clipping the inside the post.
The atmosphere inside Solitude was cranked up another notch three minutes later when Bonner bagged his first goal for Cliftonville.
It came from Marty Donnelly’s corner, and when Johnny Flynn headed it goalwards there was Bonner to nod past the stranded Ross Glendinning.
Cliftonville should have claimed the lead in the 61st minute, but Stevie Garrett scooped his shot over the bar after being played in by Chris Curran.
The Reds were awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute when Ward fouled Curran inside the box.
Referee Arnold Hunter produced a straight red card for Ward, but McMullan saw his spot-kick saved by Glendinning.
The substitute would make amends three minutes later, however, with a contender for goal of the season.
McMullan picked up possession on the right corner of the penalty box, he then dummied a shot with his left foot, then his right, before beating Glendinning with a sublime lob from 22 yards.
Linfield claimed a share of the spoils with substitute Burns latching onto Niall Quinn’s cross to fire past Devlin.
Seydak was sent off in stoppage time for a second booking, while Bonner was also shown a red card following an incident near the tunnel area after the final whistle.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Bonner, Flynn, Knowles, Curran (M. Murray 87), McDaid (J. Donnelly 23)Garrett, Donnelly, Seydak, Catney.
Subs not used: McMullan, Smyth, C. Murray.
LINFIELD: Glendinning, Stafford, Haughey, Waterworth, Lowry, Bates (Sproule 85), Ward, Clarke, Kee, Mulgrew (Burns 79), Quinn.
Subs not used: Deane, Callacher, Millar.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)