St Helens' Michael Smith rocks Phil 'the Power' Taylor

St Helens Star: Michael Smith Michael Smith

REIGNING Ladbrokes World Darts Champion Phil Taylor was sensationally knocked out of the tournament in a seven-set thriller by Michael Smith on Friday night, as Raymond van Barneveld and Peter Wright also won through to the third round at Alexandra Palace.

PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion Smith, the world number 32, left the 16-time World Champion stunned with the greatest performance of his fledgling career.

Taylor took out 156 to win the game's opening leg and took the first set without reply in an ominous start - only for Smith to take out 121 on the bull to level by winning the second 3-1.

The 23-year-old also took out 141 as he moved ahead in set three, but Taylor came from 2-0 down to level with back-to-back 13-darters before punishing two missed darts at tops from the youngster by finishing 81 for a 14-dart leg to move 2-1 up.

Smith again showed his bottle by coming from 2-1 down to edge the fourth in a decider to level once more - but missed four darts to win the fifth set as Taylor again held his nerve by finishing double eight to win the decider.

Smith sent the game into a deciding set by taking the sixth without reply, including legs of 14 and 12 darts, and after Taylor took the final set's opener on double six, the St Helens ace followed a 14-darter with two 180s in an 11-dart leg to break.

Taylor hit back to level in the fourth leg to send the match into a tie-break, but Smith broke again with a 13-darter before hitting his sixth 180 of the game in the sixth leg and finished 128 on the bull for a 12-dart leg to complete the greatest triumph of his life.

Smith had been rated at 250/1 to win the title by sponsors Ladbrokes ahead of the game, but is now 28/1 after his stunning win over the reigning champion - which echoed Taylor's second round loss to another St Helens ace, Dave Chisnall, in the 2012 tournament.

"I'm lost for words," admitted Smith. "Nobody expected me to win and I had no pressure on me tonight, but I showed I've got fight in me, I've got tenacity and I proved I can play darts on TV.

"When Phil hit the 156 to win the first leg I thought I was going to get beaten in 12 legs! But he wasn't holding his throw and I had to take my chances, and when I broke him in the second set I believed I could do it.

"I didn't even realise that I'd won the game until I heard the referee call 'Game, Shot' after I hit the bull for the 128 finish. The fourth set, when I missed doubles to go 3-1 up, was still playing on my mind and I didn't think I was throwing for the match!

"I've beaten the best player in the world and my aim now is to put my name on this trophy - and I'm confident I can win this tournament now."

Smith has been sponsored and mentored by former World Championship finalist Gary Anderson, who plays Brendan Dolan in his second round game on Saturday, and said: "Gary's been my hero ever since I started playing and by supporting me he's believed in me - and it would be a dream to play him in the final."

Smith will now play Peter Wright in the third round after Christmas, with the number 16 seed having seen off Denmark's Per Laursen 4-2 as the second round began in thrilling fashion on Friday.

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