Jordan Stewart’s excellent double helped Premierships leaders Linfield to a 2-1 win over Coleraine in the first two matches at Windsor Park.
Stewart created two moments of magic in the first half to give the champions firm control.
Blues defender Niall Quinn was sent off in the 62nd minute and Coleraine capitalized while Curtis Allen headed in with five minutes.
Bannsider defender Aaron Canning was also fired while Linfield held.
Linfield looked so comfortable as Stewart sent them into a two-goal lead at halftime, and Coleraine rarely threatened.
Stewart opened the net in the 17th minute, running away from his marker with a brilliant first touch followed by a clever jerk to leave two defenders on the pitch before placing the ball high in the net.
The striker completed his double just before the break, this time ramming in front of the defender, rounding off Chris Johns and from a narrow angle he managed to find the net.
Stewart and Shayne Lavery missed one-on-one as they both widely pulled their shots, while Chris Johns ’miss of gifted Coleraine striker Jamie Clackin had a chance for an open goal but rolled under pressure.
Linfield continued to threaten at the start of the second half, but suffered a blow when referee Andrew Davey Quinnu showed a second yellow card after a foul on Matthew Shevlin.
Coleraine tried to make an extra number, but they finally found a way when a replacement Allen headed in from Glackin’s cross.
The visitors pressed the late equalizer to become sensitive to the counterattack, and Canning was fired for tripping Manzinga as he rushed through the goal.
The deserved victory of the Blues and with the expiration of the matches, they look like champions in waiting.
What they said
Linfield Manager David Healy: “Jordan is the best player in the league on his day. You see that technical ability can be shown in tight areas,” he told Sky Sports.
“Kudos to the players – we knew we were going to fight it in the last 15-20 minutes, but we dug ourselves out.”
Linfield striker Jordan Stewart: “I managed to take a couple, although I could have taken a couple more. But I will take two and the most important are three points.
“It was a massive result when the other teams slipped. So it’s great that we managed to win – I’m thrilled.”