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Northern Ireland Edge Towards Quarter-Finals

Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen and Joe Swail are on the brink of qualification from the group stage of the Little Swan World Cup after a 3-2 win over Scotland in Wuxi.

To see group tables click here. (top two teams in each group progress)

Northern Ireland have tasted success at the World Cup before having reached the final in 2011, where Allen and Gerard Greene were runners-up to China’s Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo.

They faced a crunch group D tie with Scotland today, who were seen by many as pre-tournament favourites. Three-time ranking winner Allen ignited what was a high quality tie in the second frame with a  break of 133 to level the scores at 1-1. The world number 10 stepped up to the plate again in a deciding frame at 2-2, compiling a run of 84 to get his side over the line.

“It feels good but I want to be number one after five matches not four,” said Allen. “It was very nerve wracking. I don’t know how I managed my century. Although it is probably harder watching when you aren’t in control. Then it is up to your partner.”

Thailand currently occupy the other qualifying spot from the group. They secured an important 5-0 win over India. Whilst Israel kept themselves in contention to progress by whitewashing Cyprus 5-0.

Wales all but secured qualification from group A with a 4-1 defeat of defending champions China B.

The pair of Mark Williams and Ryan Day swept aside the teenage duo of Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao with breaks of 70, 56 and 73 along the way. Brazil remain in the hunt with China B for second spot following a 3-2 win over Norway.

Belgium provided one of the shocks of the event so far to defeat China A 3-2 and top group B.

The pair of Luca Brecel and Jeff Jacobs stunned the hosts to take the opening two singles frames, before winning the doubles to open up an unassailable 3-0 advantage.  However, with each frame counting in the standings, Liang Wenbo and Ding Junhui won what could prove to be a crucial last two singles frames.

They face a battle with Hong Kong to qualify, who defeated Egypt 4-1 to remain in the hunt for a top two spot.

England’s Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins are through to the quarter-finals after a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan in group C. The pair have now won a remarkable 18 of their 20 frames so far.

Iran defeated Australia 4-1 to move level with the Aussies in second spot.  In a match bereft of big breaks, China Open semi-finalist Hossein Vafaei won what could prove to be a crucial final frame on the black.