League Cup: Linfield beat Portadown with injury-time winner to reach semi-finals

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Linfield strike late to beat Ports in League Cup

Jordan Stewart hit an injury-time winner to give Linfield a 2-1 victory over Portadown and send them through to the League Cup semi-finals.

The forward was on hand at the back post to score from close range in the 91st-minute and set up a last-four tie against holders Dungannon Swifts.

The Blues took the lead when Michael O'Connor scored in the seventh minute.

Ryan Carmichael equalised for the Championship side with a second-half header before Stewart's late winner.

David Healy's men, who surrendered their Irish Premiership lead by losing to Ballymena United at the weekend, will travel to Stangmore Park for the semi-final clash with the Swifts on 11 December.

The quarter-final tie looked like it was heading for extra-time as the Ports fought back in the second 45 and deservedly drew level.

It was a different story in the opening period when the visitors had the majority of possession after taking an early lead.

Stewart showed great composure in the box to turn inside his marker and, when his shot was saved by Declan Dunne, O'Connor was on hand to slot home the rebound for his sixth goal of the season.

Portadown thought they were heading for extra-time before conceding late on
Portadown thought they were heading for extra-time before conceding late on

Linfield were far from at their best but they did have chances to extend their lead before the break.

Kirk Millar twice headed over the bar from fine left-wing deliveries from Niall Quinn, the first when he was on the stretch at the back post and the second when he failed to get a proper connection on the ball.

Yet the Ports could have levelled just before half-time when good work from Carmichael set Adam Salley up, but the former Blues striker miscued his shot and missed the target.

Quinn, who recently signed a contract extension at Windsor Park, was impressive throughout and came within inches of putting Linfield 2-0 up in the 55th minute but his 30-yard piledriver was deflected on to the crossbar.

The Blues hit the woodwork again from the resulting corner when defender Mark Stafford's header came back off the post.

Carmichael's 69th-minute equaliser came from a corner and he headed home from close-range at the back post after Adam McCallum had flicked on.

Matthew Clarke helped set up Stewart's winner when he crossed from the left. O'Connor was appealing for a foul when the ball fell to Stewart and he buried it to send the Blues through with his first goal of the season.

What they said

Linfield manager David Healy: "It feels good to go through. The level of our performance was probably below what we would have liked but cup football is about going through. Credit to Portadown who worked their socks off, just as we had warned our players they would."

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton: "I told the players to be positive and they did it. Linfield are a very good team and our boys deserve credit for taking them so close, but obviously we are disappointed because there are certain things we could have done better."