Big Joe Gormley bagged the priceless goal to take Cliftonville into the semi final of the Tennent’s Irish Cup.
Just when extra-time and a possible penalty shoot-out looked likely, the striker rocketed home his 25th goal of the season to send the Red Army into raptures at Windsor Park.
The result leaves Linfield’s season in tatters. David Healy’s boys enjoyed triple trophy success last season – they’ll finish empty handed this time.
Having picked up only their first home league win over the season at the weekend, the Blues carried on where they left off against Carrick Rangers and pinned in the Reds for most of the first half.
Goalkeeper Brian Neeson was called into action after only four minutes when he tipped a Kirk Millar header over the crossbar following a brilliantly whipped in cross from Niall Quinn.
Urged on by a big away support, the Reds attempted to hit back. They had a chance to put rookie goalkeeper Alex Moore under pressure with a Conor McDonald free kick, but Garry Breen failed to make any sort of contact after defender Mark Stafford had hauled down Joe Gormley.
It was all one-way traffic at this stage. Defender Mark Haughey then roared forward an let go with a fierce 30-yard drive that was tipped over the crossbar by the outstretched glove of Neeson.
The visitors at mustered a half-chance at the other end five minutes from the break when Neeson’s monster free kick was picked up by Gormley, but his scuffed shot posed no problems for Moore.
Cliftonville upped the ante after the half-time cuppa and they really should have been ahead on 63 minutes when Breen climbed to meet a Shane Grimes corner kick only to see his header flashed inches past the post.
The Reds had a real let-off with 12 minutes left when Haughey’s cross was met by Quinn. His header was brilliantly saved by Neeson, but substitute Stephen Lowry looked a likely scorer only to scuff his shot against the outside of the post.
Gormley wasn’t for missing on 80 minutes. Substitute Ruairi Harkin send a delicious pass through the middle and the big striker superbly guided a low shot into the bottom corner.
Linfield: Moore, Haughey, Stafford, Callacher, Clarke (Strain 84), Millar, Mulgrew, Garrett (Lowry 78), Quinn, Byrne, Campion (Rooney 84).
Unused subs: Crowe, Robinson, Fallon, Mitchell.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern (Cosgrove 68), Harney, Breen, Grimes, Curran, McDonald, Bagnall (Harkin 75), Garrett, R Donnelly, Gormley (J Donnelly 84).
Unused subs: Dunne, Ives, Winchester, Lavery.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).