AARON Burns blasted Linfield into the lead after barely two minutes when he connected with Damien Curran ball from the left to fire a low effort into the bottom corner.
It was 2-0 on 26 minutes courtesy of Michael Carvill after he was presented with a close range finish when Mark McAllister squared the ball into his path.
Jim Ervin further extended Linfield's lead on 70 minutes with a 12-yard drive after he had been played through by Carvill.
Cliftonville reduced the arrears on 76 minutes after Chris Scannell bobbled the ball over Alan Blayney into the bottom corner from a right-sided cross.
But Linfield restored their three goal cushion with 11 minutes left through a McAllister penalty into the roof of the net after Carvill had been upended by Ryan Brown.
Linfield: Blayney, Douglas, Gault, Curran, Carvill, A. Burns, Patterson, Garrett, Ervin, Watson, McAllister subs Murphy (not used), Lowry (replaced Burns 67), Fordyce (replaced McAllister 85), Browne (replaced Patterson 74), Casement (not used)
Cliftonville: Brown, R. Scannell, Donaghy, Holland, Caldwell, McMullan, C. Scannell, Garrett, R. Donnelly, Convery, Catney subs Johnston (not used), Seydak (not used), Gormley (replaced R. Donnelly 67), Steele (replaced Garrett 67), Stuart (replaced Caldwell 67)
- Mark McAllister celebrates scoring twice for Linfield (Picture: William Cherry/PressEye.com)