Linfield: Niall Quinn and Andy Waterworth at the double in win over Institute
A brace apiece by Andy Waterworth and Niall Quinn helped to send Linfield strolling into the BetMcLean League Cup quarter-finals off a 5-0 victory over Institute.
Linfield hit half-time with one foot in the next round - courtesy of two left-foot Quinn efforts either side of a close-range Waterworth strike before the break.
The Blues enjoyed control on the scoresheet thanks to command of possession on the pitch against an Institute side with moments of positive play but lacking the cutting edge to test Linfield.
A golden opportunity to gain reward inside four minutes arrived when Michael O’Connor latched on to a loose ball and attacked the Institute goal from deep, ending his run by slipping a pass inside to the unmarked Waterworth.
Waterworth, with time and space in the penalty area, steered goalwards with a first-time sidefoot shot but it deflected off goalkeeper Ray Kelly and out for a corner-kick.
However, Linfield did manage to break the deadlock on 20 minutes.
Joel Cooper raced along the left flank and drilled a low angled shot which Kelly could only push out at a stretch. The ball bounced between Institute defenders and the legs of O’Connor before dropping for Quinn - his acrobatic volley ended up over the line via a deflection off Caoimhin Bonner.
Waterworth was handed additional scoring opportunities in quick succession.
His first was a glancing header which just failed to meet a teasing cross flashed across the face of goal by Matthew Clarke after a Cooper pass.
Then the striker, at a stretch, managed to steer towards the target an effort off Andrew Mitchell’s drilled delivery from the right - following link-up play with Quinn - that lacked direction.
However, he managed to add his name to the scoresheet soon after by popping up at the back post to smash in the loose ball. Institute raced to close down Cooper’s path to goal but the ball dropped for O’Connor and his shot on the turn bounced off the upright - with Waterworth reacting first to fire home and double the home advantage.
If Quinn’s first goal of the night arrived as the end product of pure instinct, his second proved a touch of measured class with a perfectly-flighted free-kick strike that curled inside Kelly’s left-hand post with the Institute goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Institute worked hard in search of a reward, with Roy Carroll alert to get behind a stinging long-range drive by Joe McCready.
Callum Moorehead displayed clever close control and quick feet around the penalty area on a number of occasions, with captain Michael McCrudden always available and in search of a sight of goal.
However, Linfield managed to maintain the attacking momentum over the second half as Kelly produced firm hands to deny Waterworth at the end of a counter-attack involving O’Connor and Cooper. Waterworth secured his second moments later with an assured strike beyond Kelly off O’Connor’s pass.
Institute’s problems continued when, in the space of a few seconds, they were reduced to 10 men and conceded number five.
Institute had introduced all three substitutes when Jamie Dunne had to leave the field due to injury, with Kirk Millar then lifting the ball over the advancing Kelly from distance.
LINFIELD: Carroll, Stafford (McGuinness, 60), Callacher, Waterworth, O’Connor (Reynolds, 74), Cooper, Millar, Clarke, Mulgrew (Fallon, 67), Mitchell, Quinn.
Subs (not used): Stewart, Smith, Garrett, Deane.
INSTITUTE: Kelly, McLaughlin, Bonner, D.Curry, Doherty, McCrudden (McCallion, 76), Moorehead (S.Curry, 62), Jarvis, Brown, Wilson, McCready (Dunne, 70).
Subs (not used): Morrow, Scoltock, Harkin, Henderson.
Referee: Tony Clarke.