• World Snooker Championship

Brecel, 17, makes century as Hendry books Higgins tie

ESPN staff
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Luca Brecel is the youngest ever to play at the tournament © PA Photos
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Teenage talent Luca Brecel notched up a century break on his Crucible debut against Stephen Maguire at the World Snooker Championship, on a day when Stephen Hendry booked a meeting with John Higgins and Mark Allen launched a scathing attack on Chinese snooker.

Brecel, who is the youngest ever to play at the tournament at 17 years and 45 days, compiled a 116 in the eighth frame of the opening session. Maguire has a commanding 6-3 lead to protect in the final session - but it could have been so much worse for Belgium's Brecel, who trailed both 4-0 and 6-1.

Brecel snatched the fifth frame with a run of 96, then went one better by grabbing a century as he showed the potential that has seen him compared to Alex Higgins by his coach.

He will return to the table on Monday in an attempt to stay in the competition, as will former champion Shaun Murphy, who produced a run of 102 in the final frame to amass a 5-4 advantage over Jamie Jones.

Sunday's evening session saw Stephen Hendry and Neil Robertson wrap up victories over Stuart Bingham and Ken Doherty. Hendry and Robertson led 8-1 and 7-2 respectively heading into the evening's action, and both progressed after sluggish starts.

Hendry allowed Bingham back to 8-4 following some scrappy work around the table, but he closed out the match 10-4 in the 14th frame, setting up a tie with Higgins.

Robertson, meanwhile, knocked home a timely 72 to move to within one stanza of victory over Doherty at 9-4. Doherty had plenty of chances in the next frame to extend the contest, but an error with the rest allowed Robertson to clinch it 10-4.

Elsewhere, David Gilbert closed out a 10-8 triumph over Martin Gould, while Cao Yupeng hit two centuries to see off Mark Allen 10-6, after which Allen launched a staggering outburst on Chinese players.

"I thought the big turning point of the match was at 5-4," Allen began. "He was in among the balls and Paul Collier missed a blatant push [shot]. It was quite obvious to me... anyone at home could probably see that.

"It was a big stage of the match considering I had put him under pressure last night to get back to 5-4. If the referee rightfully calls a foul there, I have a good chance of going 5-5. He (Cao) went on from there to pull away to 7-4.

"It seems to be a bit of trait for the Chinese players. There's been a few instances in the past... fouls...and blatant cheating going on. It needs to be corrected because he (Cao) is a good enough player. He doesn't have to do that.

"He did look at the referee as soon as he done it as if to say: 'You're not calling a foul here?' I looked at Paul and Michaela [Tabb] who was marking the match and Griffiths (former world champion and coach Terry) who was commentating on it. Anything that Terry says, I trust.

"He pretty much confirmed it at the interval. It is a pretty sad state of snooker if it has to come down to that. It's not the first time. Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo have been known for it in the past. Maybe it is just a Chinese thing."

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