The 2019 Masters has started with a huge shock after the unfancied Luca Brecel produced his best snooker in some time to beat defending champion Mark Allen.
In an entertaining contest, the world number 14 battled his way to beat bookies favourite Allen 6-5 – playing some thrilling snooker in the process.
It is a stunning start to 2019 for Brecel who admitted after the match he struggled so much in 2018 due to cue problems and a shoulder injury.
The result means Allen cannot successfully defend his Masters crown after beating Kyren Wilson last year – a victory which earned him his first Triple Crown title of his career.
Brecel started the match the better of the two and deservedly went into the interval with a 3-1 lead thanks to breaks of 75 and 50.
But the quality of the match went into far greater gears after the resumption as Allen hit back with breaks of 96 and 136 to level the match at 3-3.
However, Brecel – winner of the China Championship in 2017 – refused to let Allen take control and hit back with a stunning run of 140 to go back in front.
The eighth frame saw Allen level the scores again with a break of 83 only for Brecel to take the lead once again with a run of 88.
Needing to win the frame to stay in the match, Allen punished a Brecel miss on a long red by making a ruthless 99 to force a decider.
Allen played a solid safety in the early stages which forced Brecel into going for a long red as there was no easy escape route for a safety.
And the brave shot went in and set him up to make a crucial break of 62.
Allen then went in-off to give Brecel greater control before a safety error allowed the Belgian to complete a surprise win.
Brecel will next face either China’s Ding Junhui or rising star Jack Lisowski in the quarter-finals.
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