Gerwyn Price produced a sensational comeback to recover from 5-0 down to beat Nathan Aspinall 10-6 on day three of the Unibet European Championship.
The Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last eight of the competition averaging 103.85, defying a superb opening salvo from his English opponent to progress.
The game started with Aspinall racing in to a 5-0 lead to take control of the match and put himself in a position to qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Championship for the first time.
The interval seemed to come at a good time for Price, who gathered himself and began what would become an incredible comeback win.
The Welshman strung together five consecutive legs to level the tie before Aspinall got back on track with a hold of throw to lead 6-5.
The crucial moment of the match came in the 15th leg when having already missed two darts to go within a leg of Price, Aspinall had to stand and watch as his opponent took out 132 on the bull to move within a leg of the match.
Price’s passage to the last eight was then complete as he took out 24 on double 12 to secure a massive win.
“When you’re 5-0 down you just think to yourself ‘try to win a leg or two to make the score look decent,’” Price admitted
“So when I got it back to 5-5 I didn’t even care about losing because I was just happy it was going to be a respectable score. I think the 132 to go 9-6 up won me the match.
“If Wales can win the Rugby World Cup semi-final tomorrow morning and I can win this tournament tomorrow night I will be a very happy man!”
The Welshman will now face Vincent van der Voort after the first game of the evening saw the Dutchman punish Chris Dobey for missing 17 darts at doubles, and secure a 10-5 win to progress to his first televised ranking quarter-final in over four years.
The former UK Open finalist kept his opponent at arm’s length throughout the encounter and finished with an average of 96.63, hitting 45% of his attempts at doubles.
“In August I was debating whether to carry on playing, I had a long talk with Michael [van Gerwen] about it and he encouraged me not to give up,” Van der Voort revealed.
“So I decided that for these next five years I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to get myself back to the top.
“Before I was just turning up and playing, now I’m here because I want to win and perform.”
Michael Smith’s quest to claim a first televised ranking title will roll on to Sunday as the world number four claimed a 10-7 win over Stephen Bunting.
Smith hit the front early on, racing into a 3-0 lead and hitting a 158 finish before Bunting reduced the deficit to just one at the first break.
The World Matchplay finalist then moved into a 9-5 lead where he looked set to secure the win, before accidentally swallowing some ice, which appeared to slow his charge.
A tops-tops 100 finish did eventually get Smith over the line though and he will face Jeffrey de Zwaan in the last eight.
“I felt good and all of a sudden I swallowed a bit of ice when I was having a drink, my eyes were watering whilst I was trying to take out 96,” joked Smith after the game.
“I’m just happy to get the win, that’s the most important thing and I’m still going for tomorrow.”
The win sets up a quarter-final clash with Jeffrey de Zwaan, after the Dutchman overcame his fellow countryman Jermaine Wattimena in a 10-6 success.
Six 180s and over 50% on his finishing saw the 23-year-old qualified for his first televised quarter-final since the World Matchplay in 2018.
The meeting with Smith will be only their second televised clash, with the Englishman winning the first match at the World Championship in 2015.
“It was a really tough game, we are from the same country so I really wanted to beat him,” said De Zwaan after his win over Wattimena.
“I lost my first World Championship match against Michael Smith, but I have a good record against him since then so I will do my best and see what happens.”
The 2019 Unibet European Championship will conclude on Sunday with the quarter-finals taking place during the afternoon session, with the evening playing host to the semi’s and final where a new European champion will be crowned.
Saturday October 26
Second Round x4
Vincent dan der Voort 10-5 Chris Dobey
Michael Smith 10-7 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 10-6 Nathan Aspinall
Jeffrey de Zwaan 10-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Sunday October 27 (1245 local time, 1145 GMT)
Ricky Evans v Rob Cross
Dave Chisnall v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Vincent van der Voort v Gerwyn Price
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Semi-Finals & Final