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Linfield 1-0 Cliftonville

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Linfield's 1-0 win over Cliftonville clinches the Irish League Championship

Linfield clinched the Carling Premiership title as Robert Garrett's 60th-minute strike helped earn victory against Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

Chris Scannell missed a Reds chance while Linfield's Peter Thompson fired wide but it was a mediocre first half.

As the game improved, Linfield began to press and Garrett had a penalty shout turned down while Thompson fired wide.

Garrett hit the winner on the hour and he had another penalty claim while Scannell missed a late Reds chance.

Linfield went into the game needing a point to guarantee the club's 49th Irish League title.

The Blues had an early scare as William Murphy's misdirected back-header put Scannell in the clear but the Reds striker failed to get full purchase on his shot.

Man-of-the-match Garrett went close for the Blues on the 21st minute while Thompson should have fired the soon-to-be-champions ahead two minutes before the break after being set up by the lively Mark McAllister.

The action improved considerably after the break.

Garrett appeared to be hauled down in the Reds penalty area while Thompson miscued a great chance as his Blues team-mates were still protesting about referee Raymond Crangle's decision.

A Murphy mistake gifted a chance to Cliftonville's Mark Clarke in the Blues box but the youngster pushed his shot inches wide.

Robert Garrett
Robert Garrett celebrates after his 60th-minute goal

However, Linfield nerves were eased considerably when Garrett blasted to the net on 60 minutes after Thompson's initial chance had been blocked.

Garrett appeared to be denied another stonewall penalty on 73 minutes and he was in action again a minute later as his long-range free-kick was brilliantly saved by Reds keeper John Connolly.

Linfield's lead was not threatened until injury-time when Chris Scannell fired a great chance over the top.

But Linfield had done enough and players and management celebrated heartily as they were presented with the league trophy after the final whistle.

Blues manager David Jeffrey heaped praise on his players after the triumph.

"Back at Christmas, I was being advised that my position was being discussed by the board," added Jeffrey, referring back to Linfield's struggles in December when his team picked up only a point from four league games.

"We've dug in. The players have been absolutely magnificent.

"The performance tonight was excellent. We didn't show any nerves and I felt we were in control.

"Really it shouldn't have been just down to 1-0. We should have scored at least three or four.

"But who cares. We're champions."



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see also
Jeffrey slams IFA after cup exit
20 Apr 10 |  Irish
Linfield 2-0 Crusaders
23 Feb 10 |  Irish
Crusaders 0-4 Linfield
10 Oct 09 |  Irish
Linfield 0-1 Crusaders
15 Aug 09 |  Irish


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