Irish Premiership: Crusaders thump Reds to move seven points clear as Glens hold Blues

Crusaders dominated the north Belfast derby against Cliftonville
Crusaders dominated the north Belfast derby against Cliftonville

Crusaders thumped Cliftonville 4-0 to go seven points clear at the top of the Irish Premiership as Linfield were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Glentoran.

Jordan Owens, Howard Beverland, Gavin Whyte and Declan Caddell scored for the Crues while Mark Haughey gave Linfield the lead, before Aaron Harmon levelled.

Glenavon came from two down to draw 2-2 at Portadown while Ballymena ran out 2-0 winners over derby rivals Coleraine.

Carrick Rangers drew 1-1 with Ards and Dungannon defeated Ballinamallard 3-2.

Re-live all the Boxing Day Premiership action as it happened here

At Solitude, Paul Heatley provided the assist for Owens to side-foot home his 13th goal of the season two minutes before the interval, then Stephen Garrett saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Sean O'Neill in the 48th minute after the referee spotted a handball in the area.

Beverland poked home from close range after Owens had hit the post and Whyte ran from the halfway line and drilled a shot low into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 on 73.

Caddell struck the ball on the rise into the top corner from 25 yards out with 10 minutes remaining, while Jay Donnelly was sent-off for a dangerous tackle in the closing stages.

Aaron Burns and Stephen McAlorum in aerial action at Windsor Park
Aaron Burns and Stephen McAlorum in aerial action at Windsor Park

Haughey gave Linfield the lead with a downward header from Niall Quinn's inswinging corner after 11 minutes at Windsor Park but Harmon restored parity by looping a magnificent header past Roy Carroll on the hour mark.

The Glens had Stephen McAlorum sent-off for a late challenge on Sean Ward with four minutes left but could have secured all three points when Carroll saved Nacho Novo's angled shot with his feet.

The result adds greater significance to Saturday's top-of-the-table clash between Crusaders and nearest challengers Linfield at Seaview.

Ballymena made it two home wins over Coleraine in the space of a fortnight thanks to Cathair Friel's diving angled header from a Tony Kane cross on 10 minutes and Kane's majestic right-foot effort into the top corner after Friel hit the post on 43.

Ballymena goalscorers Tony Kane and Cathair Friel join together to celebrate
Ballymena goalscorers Tony Kane and Cathair Friel join together to celebrate

Portadown looked on course for a second successive league triumph after Mark Carson tapped under Jonny Tuffey on 25 and Aaron Haire made it 2-0 by latching onto Stephen Hughes's through ball, holding off a defender and drilling into the bottom corner five minutes after the break.

Ciaran Martyn pulled one back in the 77th minute and Mark Sykes grabbed the equaliser three minutes into stoppage time with a long free-kick into the top corner.

Robert Garrett congratulates Mark Carson
Robert Garrett congratulates Mark Carson after he scored Portadown's opener against Glenavon

Swifts come out on top at Stangmore

Dungannon move above Glenavon into sixth place on goal difference thanks to prolific marksman Andy Mitchell's 87th-minute winner at Stangmore Park.

Jason McCartney beat Stuart Addis from an acute angle to nudge the Mallards ahead in the first half but Mitchell slotted in from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

Paul McElroy's six-yard header from Mitchell's pinpoint cross put the Swifts in front but Josh McIlwaine looked to have earned his side a point in the 85th minute.

After Mitchell's late winner, the Mallards had Liam McMenamin sent-off two minutes into added time at the end of the game.

Daniel Kelly toe-poked the ball into the net after being played in by Tiernan McNicholl to give Carrick Rangers the lead at home to Ards just after the half hour mark, but Emmett Friars headed in to salvage a draw for Colin Nixon's side on 49.

Daniel Kelly put Carrick Rangers ahead against Ards just after the half hour mark
Daniel Kelly put Carrick Rangers ahead against Ards just after the half hour mark
Irish Premiership - Monday 26 December
Ballymena Utd2-0Coleraine
Carrick Rangers1-1Ards
Cliftonville0-4Crusaders
Dungannon Swifts3-2Ballinamallard Utd
Linfield1-1Glentoran
Portadown2-2Glenavon