(3-0, 3-0, 2-3, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2, 3-1, 3-2)

RUTHLESS Phil Taylor claimed victory in the World Darts Championship with a 7-1 victory over Raymond van Barneveld.

Taylor claimed an unprecedented 14th World Championship title with a sensational display at London’s Alexandra Palace, producing a 110.94 average – the highest ever in a major final.

He dropped only four sets in the tournament to claim the £125,000 title in style and continue his historic career – less than 12 months after some pundits suggested his best days were behind him after a quarter-final exit in the World Championship and a poor start to the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts.

“It’s a fantastic feeling and very special,” said Taylor. “This ranks up there alongside anything I’ve ever achieved.

“They all said I was finished, and now who’s laughing?! My mum used to say that he who laughs last laughs the loudest, and I’m here as World Champion for a 14th time.

“I want to win everything I go into and I think I can improve.”

For many of the 2,500-strong crowd at Alexandra Palace, there appeared little Taylor could do to improve on a near-faultless opening two sets as he blew van Barneveld away.

Taylor had won the bullseye before the game and gave van Barneveld the throw – and immediately broke throw in 14 darts.

He won the second leg despite a maximum from van Barneveld and then wrapped up the set with a 12 dart-finish in the third leg to take an early lead.

The Dutchman hit a maximum in the first leg of the second set, but missed three darts at doubles to win the leg and Taylor held throw to land double seven.

The Stoke star then broke throw in the next leg by landing double ten in a 14-dart finish, and a 13-darter secured the set and a 2-0 lead.

Van Barneveld won his first leg of the match at the start of the third set with a 110 checkout, after Taylor missed a dart at double 16 for a seventh successive leg.

Taylor replied with a 14-darter and then levelled once more in the fourth leg with a 126 checkout.

The decider proved dramatic, with van Barneveld missing two darts for the set before Taylor missed three attempts of his own before double five got the Dutchman back into the match.

The pair traded 11-darters to open set four, before Taylor took the third leg and van Barneveld landed two 180s in the fourth – but crucially missed two darts to level the match as the 13-time World Champion took out double four.

Van Barneveld won the opening leg of set five and then broke Taylor’s throw with an excellent 86 finish, completed on the bullseye.

That gave him a 2-0 lead, but Taylor won the third leg against the darts with a two-dart 84 finish for an 11-darter before double 16 levelled and an 81 finish gave him a 4-1 lead in the match.

Taylor started the sixth set with a 13-darter, and a 100 checkout put him 2-1 up before the pair swapped maximums as van Barneveld squared the set.

In the decider, it was Taylor who was victorious once again by landing double six to pull further clear.

Van Barneveld won the opening leg of the seventh set hitting double four, after Taylor missed a dart at double 16 for 104 checkout, but the Stoke legend took the second and then punished three missed doubles to break throw in the third.

Taylor then landed his eighth maximum of the game and double three to wrap up the set and a 6-1 cushion.

Taylor won the first leg of the eighth set, but missed three opportunities to break van Barneveld’s throw in the second as the Dutchman took out 74 to level.

Taylor hit double top in the third leg to go within touching distance of victory, but van Barneveld hit his 12 maximum of the game in a 12-darter to keep the match alive.

But in the deciding leg, Taylor opened with a maximum and went to win leg with a fantastic 11-darter, his fourth of the game, to secure the title in superb style.

“I’ve played well over the years and had some great performances but the standard is better now,” he added.

“You’ve got no choice now but to do 100-plus averages. If you get a 95 average, you’ll be out!

“Those are the type of games you have to play against Barney. You have to put him under pressure and keep him under pressure – you can’t let him off.

“I battered him and knew I was getting on top of him. He kept nicking legs off me and winning legs he didn’t deserve to win, which was getting on my nerves!”

Taylor backed the five-time World Champion to bounce back in 2009, saying: “This will break Barney’s heart but he will go back to Holland, practice and put it right.

“Next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Barneveld like I’ve been this year.”

Van Barneveld averaged a fine 101.18 in reply to Taylor, but admitted: “He was absolutely brilliant.

“I have to say congratulations to him. I just do not know what to do to beat this man – I practice ten hours a day and still it is not good enough.

“He is the greatest ever and I never took the opportunities he gave me, but I will be back.”

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