Champions Cup: Linfield and Dundalk play out 1-1 draw in first leg at Windsor Park


Linfield and Dundalk will meet in the second leg at Oriel Park on Monday night

Shayne Lavery and Daniel Kelly were on target as Linfield and Dundalk played out a lacklustre 1-1 draw in the first leg of the inaugural Champions Cup at Windsor Park.

Lavery fired Irish Premiership champions Linfield into an eighth-minute lead with a powerful shot.

Daniel Kelly levelled the score with a well-taken goal six minutes after the restart.

The sides meet in the second leg at Oriel Park on Monday night.

Lavery got Linfield off to a flyer when he fired the Blues into the lead at the end of their first meaningful move.

Jamie Mulgrew poked a well-weighted ball through the Dundalk defence and Lavery was ruthless, dropping his shoulder to beat Andy Boyle before rifling his left-footed shot beyond Gary Rodgers.

The early goal settled the hosts, but it was Dundalk who had the next clear sight of goal when Jordan Flores flashed a shot wide after 25 minutes.

Daniel Kelly netted Dundalk’s leveller after 51 minutes

Linfield ‘keeper Gareth Deane then displayed excellent reflexes to tip Boyle’s bullet header onto the crossbar after the Blues defence failed to track the Dundalk defender’s run.

The Belfast side should have doubled their lead just before half-time. Matthew Clarke surged forward from left-back and fed Joel Cooper, but the in-form attacker lashed his shot into the side-netting with Lavery and Kirk Millar waiting for the squared ball in the centre.

The recently-crowned League of Ireland champions showed renewed purpose after the restart as Flores curled a shot just wide.

Moments later, Kelly found the equaliser. Dean Jarvis clipped a pass through the Linfield defence and Kelly made no mistake as he coolly slotted past into the bottom corner six minutes into the second half.

Kelly nearly turned provider for the winner on 65 when his cross from the right flank came within inches of finding Pat Hoban’s head.

Late on, Mark Stafford was nearly punished for a short backpass but Deane was able to clear the danger before Dundalk substitute Georgie Kelly.

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