Teenager Littler beats legend Van Barneveld at World Darts

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Luke Littler will now face Brendan Dolan on New Year’s Day in the World Championship quarter-finals

Luke Littler continued his historic run at the PDC World Darts Championship with a sensational 4-1 victory over five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld to reach the quarter-finals.

The 16-year-old powered past the Dutchman with a stunning display to send the Alexandra Palace crowd wild.

Littler was born 21 days after Van Barneveld, 56, won the most recent of his five world titles in 2007.

He will play Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan in the last eight.

“Unbelievable. I don’t know what to say,” he told Sky Sports.

“I went 2-0 up, 3-0 up, then I said to my family, ‘one set away and I’m over the line’.”

Littler, who has now won £50,000 in prize money, admitted in the build-up to Saturday’s game that Van Barneveld was his idol growing up, posting a video of himself as a youngster on social media re-enacting the Dutchman’s signature ‘arms outstretched’ celebration.

But he showed no sign of being in awe of the veteran, as he averaged 105 and hit nine 180s to become the youngest player to reach the quarter-finals of the World Championships.

“He [Van Barneveld] said to me ‘you can go all the way, I hope you can go all the way’. I said ‘thank you’ – he’s a true gentleman and I respect Raymond very, very much,” added Littler, who was doing his GCSEs just six months ago.

Littler’s sensational run has seen him rise from obscurity to sporting stardom, with Arsenal footballers Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale asking for a photograph with him in a hotel last week.

The Manchester United-supporting youngster, who has been playing darts since he was 18 months old, also received a good luck message from Red Devils defender Jonny Evans and former United captain Gary Neville before his meeting with Van Barneveld.

That hype will only continue as he prepares for his meeting with Dolan on New Year’s Day.

Asked whether he believed he could lift the trophy, Littler said: “I fancy myself, I do fancy myself, but we have Brendan next. Let’s just focus on Brendan.”

Northern Irishman Dolan is also enjoying a memorable run as he caused another upset by beating two-time champion Gary Anderson 4-3.

The 28th seed, who beat 2021 champion Gerwyn Price in the previous round, conceded a two-set lead to trail 3-2 but hit back to level then took a tense decider to eliminate the 2015 and 2016 winner.

Meanwhile, world number three Luke Humphries squeezed through to the next round with a pulsating 4-3 win over Joe Cullen.

With the score at three sets each, both players missed nine match darts between them to leave a chaotic final set level at 5-5 and force a sudden-death leg.

Humphries then showed his composure to win the game with a 100 checkout and leave Cullen looking visibly emotional as he left the stage.

“That is one of the best games I have ever been a part of,” Humphries told Sky Sports.

“I feel so sorry for Joe. Sometimes in darts it doesn’t deserve a loser and I don’t think Joe deserved to lose that game.

“But I never gave up and that allows me to keep going.”

Scott Williams set up a quarter-final meeting with three-time winner Michael van Gerwen after breezing past Australia’s Damon Heta 4-1.

Williams apologised after the game for his comments about Germany following his win over Martin Schindler in the previous round.

Rob Cross is through to the last eight for the first time since he won the title in 2018 after he beat Jonny Clayton 4-0 to set up a meeting with Chris Dobey.

And England’s Dave Chisnall is through to the quarter-finals for the fourth time after beating Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney 4-2.

Saturday, 30 December – fourth-round results

Rob Cross (Eng) 4-0 Jonny Clayton (Wal)

Scott Williams (Eng) 4-1 Damon Heta (Aus)

Daryl Gurney (NI) 2-4 Dave Chisnall (Eng)

Brendan Dolan (NI) 4-3 Gary Anderson (Sco)

Raymond van Barneveld (Ned) 1-4 Luke Littler (Eng)

Luke Humphries (Eng) 4-3 Joe Cullen (Eng)

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