Players paid $10k to give away yellow cards in A-League games, police allege

Macarthur FC captain Ulises Dávila is one of three players from the A-League side who have been charged over an alleged betting scandal.

The NSW Police Organised Crime Squad Gaming Unit launched an investigation into the alleged manipulation of yellow cards during football games for gambling purposes.

Police will allege detectives discovered midfielder Mr Dávila, 33, had been allegedly taking instructions from a man — believed to be in South America — to organise yellow cards to occur during certain points in A-League games.

Three players have been charged with numerous offences.(Supplied: NSW Police)

The alleged offending occurred during games between November 24 and December 9 last year.

Mr Dávila received a yellow card during Macarthur FC’s game against Melbourne Victory on November 24 and another yellow card during his side’s match against Sydney FC on December 9.

Failed attempts to allegedly control the number of cards issued during games happened between April 20 and May 4 this year.

Players paid $10k for yellow card, police allege

Detectives executed five search warrants across Sydney this morning, arresting Mr Dávila in South Coogee.

A footballer sat on the ground with a ball at his feet

Ulises Dávila was arrested by detectives in South Coogee on Friday morning.(AAP: Jeremy Ng)

Police will allege a senior player paid junior players $10,000 for giving away yellow cards, acting under instruction of an organised crime figure in South America.

Assistant Commissioner Fitzgerald said the money was insignificant compared to the impact the actions of these players has had on the integrity of the game.

“We will allege that the giving out of four yellow cards and the subsequent penalties that arose out of those yellow cards could in fact change the way that result of that game went,” he said.

“While $10,000 may seem a lot of money to a young sportsperson, we will advise that is incredibly insignificant when you consider the damage that being charged with this offence and conviction results in.

“We will allege that these instance in November and December 2023, that these players betrayed the trust of their supporters.”

Police said in addition to the three players arrested this morning, they are looking for another player who is currently out of the state.

Betting done ‘predominantly in South America’

NSW Police State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad Detective Superintendent Peter Faux said investigators had not identified any betting in Australia, but “predominantly in South America”.

“There’s multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out in respect to the game we are alleging this occurred in,” he said.

Police officers outside a house

Police executed five warrants across Sydney this morning.(Supplied: NSW Police)

Superintendent Faux said he wanted to make it clear that there was currently no other evidence or indication that any other club within the A-League is involved.

Mr Dávila has been charged with a number of offences, including two counts of engage in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

A 27-year-old player from Parramatta and a 32-year-old player from West Hoxton have also been charged with offences, including participate in a criminal group.

All three have been granted bail to appear in court at a later date.

Mr Dávila plays as an attacking midfielder and is the first Mexican to sign with English Premier League club Chelsea in 2011, and has previously played for Wellington Phoenix.

He recently signed on for another two years at Macarthur FC.

Club ‘shocked by arrests’

Macarthur FC said in a statement the club was “shocked” by the arrests

“Integrity of our game is a foundation pillar and we will work closely with all relevant agencies on this matter,” the club said.

Detectives from the organised crime squad are working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Sports Integrity Australia, Football Australia, Australian Professional Leagues and the NSW Crime Commission.

The investigation is ongoing.

Look back at how ABC readers and other Australians responded to this live moment.

Wondering what this is? Join us next time we’re live and be part of the discussion.

Posted , updated 

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#Players #paid #10k #give #yellow #cards #ALeague #games #police #allege

Sydney FC claim A-League Women championship after defeat of Melbourne City

The irrepressible Sydney FC have beaten Melbourne City 1-0 to claim a record fifth A-League Women championship, and their second in a row.

Premiers City dominated possession but super-sub Shea Connors struck in the 69th minute, brilliantly assisted by teen sensation Indiana Dos Santos, to send the Sky Blues into ecstasy.

Both teams were on four titles heading into Saturday’s clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne, which took place in front of 7671 fans.

It was the second-highest grand final attendance ever, after the 9519 in Sydney last year.

Sky Blues midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby was named player of the match.

City right-back Bryleeh Henry was superb and Julia Grosso shut down Matildas star Cortnee Vine, while Sydney FC defenders Charlotte Mclean and Jordan Thompson kept the dangerous Hannah Wilkinson quiet.

The Melbourne side suffered a blow before the game, with goalkeeper Barbara ruled out with a quad strain.

Veteran Melissa Barbieri stepped in, with Emily Shields signed late as a back-up.

Despite her 27-year professional career and more than 80 caps for the Matildas, it was Barbieri’s first start in a grand final.

She made a sharp one-handed save to deny Thompson inside the opening minute, while her Sydney counterpart Jada Whyman was also called into action early to deny Wilkinson.

In the 11th minute, City teenager Daniela Galic bamboozled multiple Sydney defenders but her tame close-range effort was easily claimed by Whyman.

The Sky Blues almost pinched a goal at the end of the half after Stott slipped and Hawkesby pounced, but the Sydney midfielder attempted to pass rather than shoot and Henry recovered to clean up.

In the 64th minute it was City’s turn to go close, Taylor Otto dragging a shot wide of the far post.

Sydney skipper Princess Ibini set a record by playing in her eighth decider, but made way for Connors in the 67th minute – and it proved a master stroke from coach Ante Juric.

Two minutes later, a poor Rebekah Stott header fell to Shay Hollman, who worked the ball to Dos Santos.

The 16-year-old pulled off a wonderful pass to find Connors, who beat City’s defence for pace, burst forward and struck a first-time shot past Barbieri.

Dario Vidosic’s City spurned multiple good chances to equalise and were left to rue what might have been.

Hughes shot over the bar in the 79th minute, and Leticia McKenna appeared destined to score four minutes later only to be denied by a Hollman clearance over the bar.

Rhianna Pollicina should have levelled the tie in the 84th minute after a Whyman clearance fell to her, but with the goal beckoning she blasted over the bar.

Check out how the game unfolded in our liveblog below.

Key events

So long, glorious Dub

Well, it’s been an epic season. The first home-and-away season in A-League Women history, record-breaking attendances and broadcast audiences, all in the afterglow of that incredible Women’s World Cup.

I’ll have plenty more to say about how Sydney’s incredible win tonight speaks to these bigger trends and themes, but for now, it’s time to say goodbye to what has been a sensational season of Dub.

Thank you all so much for joining me on the blog today, and I’ll be seeing you again when the Matildas take on China at the end of the month.

Until then – GO SYDNEY! And cyas!

Post-game scenes

The podium has been erected on the field, with a big blue arch set up nearby behind a CHAMPIONS sign.

Sydney FC midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby is named Player of the Match for an immense effort. She really has been the saviour of Sydney’s season in so many ways, so it’s fabulous to see her recognised.

The players of Melbourne City are now filing acrss the stage to receive medals and shake hands with a couple representatives of the A-Leagues.

They’re all looking absolutely shattered, as you’d expect. Some were in tears after the final whistle. To have come so far but have fallen short right on the brink of history has gotta hurt.

It’s the Sydney players’ turns now. They’re all wearing scarves, which they wrap around the necks of the young girls who’ve been recruited from a local club to hand out their medals.

There’s a small but vocal group of hardcore Sydney fans down one end of the field waving banners and scarves and singing for their players. Great effort from them all to travel down to watch their team defend their championship title.

Analysis corner with Big Ben

A really enjoyable match of tactics – nuts at the start as someone tried to get the early advantage – no deal. Then all tensed up for remainder of first half. Then in the second the tactical difference I think was Sydney subbing when they wanted, and Melbourne City subbing when they needed. Melbourne cracked, which lit things up nicely for the rest of the (oddly long) time. Well done ALW. Well done Sydney. Well done Connors, Well done Sam and thank you 🙂

– Big Ben

Great summary of the match here from Ben, one of the blog’s regulars.

I think you’re spot-on, Ben. The timing of Sydney’s substitution of Connors was definitely key, whereas it looked like City were maybe hedging their bets on the game going to extra-time and wanting fresh legs.

But it came back to bite ’em almost immediately.

Your reactions (to my mum??)

Drinks are on Sandye tonight! 😊🏆🍾🥂

– Leo

Sandeye….golf champ…one eyed Sky Blue…and Samantha’s Mum…some people have all the luck!!!

– stumcin

Final thoughts

As soon as the whistle blew, Sydney FC’s entire bench ran out onto the field in a dark blue wave of noise and flailing arms.

It’s almost unbelievable that they’ve won this considering the stats of this game: 28% possession, just 3 shots on target, and only one corner.

This wasn’t about trying to play football, though. This was about trying to find a single moment and capitalising. And when Melissa Barbieri mis-timed her sprint off the line, allowing Shea Connors to squeeze the ball beneath her legs, that was all the moment Sydney FC needed.

From there, it was bunkering in and trying to survive the storm of a City side who realised, finally, that they were playing in a grand final, and that grand finals require something else than what got them the premiership.

They tried – god knows, they tried – and those final, endless minutes of extra time were panic-stations, throwing everything they could at a team that had defended so brilliantly all game, trying to create moments of their own.

They had some, but the players who you’d usually expect to grasp them – Rhianna Pollicina, Emina Ekic, Laura Hughes – tonight, simply, couldn’t.

By the end, it was the team who’s battled through wars of their own, who weathered the ups and downs of the whole season and came out the other side champions.

Sydney FC can now lay claim to being the most successful team in A-League Women history. A fifth championship to match their five premierships. And they did it, this season, with the youngest team in the league. Is there any team who will ever be able to do what they’ve done again? I doubt it.

My mum won golf AND her team won the Dub grand final

the double!! woo hoo! well done SFC!

– Sandye

She’s your lucky charm, Sydney fans!!!

FULL-TIME: SYDNEY FC WIN 1-0!

THE SKY BLUES DEFEND THEIR A-LEAGUE WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE!

96′ Everyone’s up!

City’s formation is basically a 5-4-1, having thrown as many as they can risk forward to try and find a last-ditch equaliser.

But the final pass just isn’t there. They’ve sent dozens of corners into Sydney’s penalty area, but none of them have been met by a team-mate. They’ve tried to squeeze and wriggle and pass their way through and behind and around, but they just can’t find someone to twist the final knife.

One thing’s for sure: this has been a hell of an impressive mature performance by Sydney. The youngest team in the league, a team that wasn’t favoured to take this out, but who, somehow, find themselves on the brink of a fifth championship title.

93′ Crash-and-bash

Melbourne City are running out of ideas. Sydney’s dark blue wall has held firm all game, anchored by the excellent Jordan Thompson and Charlotte McLean, and they just haven’t been able to find a crack.

So they’re just throwing themselves at Sydney’s players now. Taylor Otto isn’t a centre-back anymore, she’s a miscellaneous midfielder, using her height and strength to try and crash her way through Sydney’s defence.

It’s route-one balls from City at this point, over the top or through, just trying to create any possible half-opening that they could swing a hopeful foot at.

But Sydney are holding. And holding. And holding. Sometimes, they nick the ball away to a Cortnee Vine or a Mackenzie Hawkesby, who pump their tired legs to try and move it away from their own goal. But mostly they’re just sitting deep and trying to protect this lead.

9 minutes of added time

Where the HECK did that come from!?

Who cares! It’s time for chaos.

88′ City keep coming!!

Now we have a game…Melbourne City are throwing the kitchen sink!

– stumcin

Sydney FC need to be careful going into the late stages of the game, Melbourne City are desperate for the equaliser and will no doubt capitalise on any and every chance they get.

– Adam

Wave after wave of attack as they try to equalise!

Sydney are scrambling – trying to hold their nerve, stay calm and structured – but a single wrong step or bad decision could spell the end.

City are slicker now, faster, sharper in their angles and movements.

Galic nips the ball away from a sloppy Abbey Lemon and dinks it back over Whyman’s diving hands, trying desperately to find Emina Ekic at the back post, but it flies just over her leaping ponytail.

The crowd is up now, getting louder, trying to push the home side on. The minutes are slipping away. There’s not long left to keep their double hopes alive.

85′ Chance City!!

The home side attack again with some strong individual work from Daniela Galic in the box, slipping the ball through three Sydney defenders to McKenna on the right wing.

She clips a cross backwards, over the top of Sydney’s pack of defenders, and although Whyman gets a glove to the ball to slap it away, it falls right to the feet of Rhianna Pollicina.

She has nobody around her – she just needs to wait for the ball to fall perfectly – but her eventual shot flies over the crossbar instead.

She puts her head in her hands. That was the biggest chance she’s had all night. Should have buried it.

83′ CHANCE CITY!

OH MY GOODNESS!

The resulting free-kick is beautifully dipping towards the back post, and falls perfectly to Leticia McKenna.

The substitute takes a touch inside onto her left foot and rifles a shot towards goal.

Jada Whyman is already flying across to stop it but the ball is going above her, but Shay Hollman leaps into the air and heads it right over the crossbar.

The young midfielder celebrates like she’d scored. She just prevented an almost-guaranteed equaliser. Incredible.

82′ Yellow card Sydney

Tori Tumeth got turned around by Daniela Galic near the sideline and, in response, the Sydney defender just clambers into the City teenager and the two tumble into the ground.

It looks like Tumeth slipped slightly in the turf, but the referee didn’t see it, instead giving her the second yellow card of the game.

Galic is furious, she stands over Tumeth intimidatingly as a team-mate tries to get in the way to stop it from getting any more heated.

The players disperse to get ready for the free-kick.

79′ Chance City

Rhianna Pollicina almost breaks through Sydney’s defensive line, but Charlotte McLean does well to scramble back and sling a leg in the way to scoop the ball away from the City midfielder.

But it’s not quite enough and it falls straight to (I think) Laura Hughes, who cuts inside and takes a few steps towards the top of the box before rocketing a shot well over the crossbar.

78′ City 0 – 1 Sydney

There’s some chat in the media box about who’s been the Player of the Match.

It’s been a tough one considering this has been an arm-wrestle of a game, with neither team really having any clear stand-outs.

Daniela Galic has shown flashes of brilliance for City, but Sydney have been really sturdy in midfield with Mackenzie Hawkesby and Shay Hollman in particular.

Who do you reckon has been the MVP so far, team? Help us do the votes.

77′ City substitution

Leticia McKenna comes on for Hannah Wilkinson.

Official attendance: 7,671

It’s the second-highest crowd for an A-League Women grand final in history, though you’d have to think it should have been much higher considering some of the numbers we’ve seen throughout the season.

Your goal reactions!

Brilliant substitution! Great ball from Indiana! ⚽️😊

– Leo

Through pass on target! Neatly done, smart subbing.

– Big Ben

What a time to score your first goal for the season….We got Connors… Super Shea Connors!

– stumcin

GOALLL!!!!!! Yes!!!!!

– M

72′ City win a corner

The home side have sprung to life and immediately are on the counter, trying to equalise.

Hannah Wilkinson, who’s not done heaps this half, is suddenly up and about, dancing through Sydney’s defenders towards the by-line before clipping a ball off Jordan Thompson for a corner.

The ball is taken short and swung back in towards Jada Whyman, who’s crowded out by a couple players, and the ball bounces off a Sydney head before she scrambles to clutch it in her gloves.

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Matildas qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics with 10-nil thrashing of Uzbekistan

The ruthless Matildas have thrashed Uzbekistan 10-0 to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games in style, with Michelle Heyman scoring four goals to put her hand up for a ticket to Paris.

Australia led the tie 3-0 after Saturday’s first leg in Tashkent but blew Uzbekistan out of the water to win 13-0 on aggregate, with Caitlin Foord, Kaitlyn Torpey, Mary Fowler, Hayley Raso and Amy Sayer also scoring.

Temperatures hit 36C in Melbourne earlier on Wednesday, but it didn’t deter a crowd of 54,120, which included Olympic greats Cathy Freeman and Anna Meares.

The Matildas took the lead inside 34 seconds at Marvel Stadium and never looked back, with Fowler at her spellbinding best in an eight-goal first-half rout.

Heyman, 35, who also scored in Tashkent, replaced Emily van Egmond for her first international start since March 2018.

The striker’s movement and guile proved far too hot for Uzbekistan to handle as she snared a hat-trick inside the first 16 minutes.

Second-gamer Torpey, 23, had a hand in three goals and scored her first international goal in her own compelling audition for the 18-player Olympics squad.

Australia took the lead when Torpey’s squaring ball deflected off Uzbek defender Dilrabo Asadova for an own goal.

Three minutes later, Fowler launched a diagonal ball from the left and Torpey brilliantly stuck out her right leg to cut the ball across goal.

Clare Hunt fluffed her shot but Heyman was on hand to tuck it away.

For the third, in the eighth minute, Steph Catley lofted a ball in from the left that dipped for Heyman to nod home.

Heyman sealed her hat-trick when Fowler threaded a great ball behind the Uzbek defence for the striker to put away.

Torpey scored the fifth in the 22nd minute when Uzbekistan failed to clear a corner and she rifled a close-range strike into the roof of the net.

Rarely troubled, Mackenzie Arnold made a strong save to deny Uzbekistan captain Lyudmila Karachik in the 28th minute.

Six minutes later, Katrina Gorry picked out Fowler with a wonderful inside pass and the playmaker rifled home.

In the 38th minute, Uzbekistan failed to deal with a Kyra Cooney-Cross free kick and Foord pounced for Australia’s seventh.

On the stroke of half-time, Uzbekistan cleared a corner off the line but Torpey squared it for Heyman to stoop and head home her fourth.

Heyman, Foord, Gorry and Ellie Carpenter came off at half-time, for Sayer, Tameka Yallop, van Egmond and Raso, while Charli Grant replaced Catley in the 65th minute.

Raso rifled home in the 68th while Sayer’s first international goal in the fourth minute of injury time put an exclamation mark on the victory.

Check out how the game unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

Well, what a way to qualify for your third Olympic Games in a row!

An absolute masterclass from the Matildas saw them sweep aside the underdog Uzbeks, taking out the two-legged tie 13-0 on aggregate.

The first half was particularly brutal, with the tone set within the first 45 seconds by Kaitlyn Torpey’s torpedo cross that was spun into the net by an Uzbekistan defender.

The goals came thick and fast after that, with Michelle Heyman scoring four in the first 45 minutes alone.

Torpey, Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, and Amy Sayer all added to the scoreboard, and while a host of rotations made the second half a little less thrilling, there is very little to complain about from this completely dominant display by Australia’s fave sports team.

The players are about to be congratulated with a special presentation on the field: a giant “QUALIFIED” sign has been set up on half-way, with a giant novelty plane ticket being presented to them by Olympic legend Anna Meares.

It’s been a long road through qualifying, but finally the Matildas can prepare properly for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

And you bet your butts I’ll be back here on the blog when they do, as well as for a friendly they’ve got set up against Mexico on April 10.

Until then, take it easy!

Your reactions!

What a game! I’d hoped we’d win, but I never expected this!

– Mickey from Canberra

Love it

– Julian

Thanks for another great live blog, Sam! ⚽️💚💛

– Leo

Uzbekistan have been much better this half both defensively and in terms of capitalising on chances they get but ultimately you do have to feel for them having lost their keeper to injury and losing by a large margin for the first time since their Asian Games semi and third-place matches against North Korea and China.

– Adam

All this time we’ve been looking for another striker and she has been hiding in plain sight at Canberra…

– Mike

Ms Sayer! Relief written large on a young face. I suspect this second half, like the first half a few days ago, has made Tony’s squad selection decision making a little easier. All solid, a well oiled machine he’s built, complete with sub parts, and a couple of high profile busted elements. Finally he has the depth and breadth they’ve all worked for. It’s a joy to experience. Thanks Sam!

– Big Ben

THE MATILDAS ARE GOING TO THE PARIS OLYMPICS!!!!

To: the blog. From: the Matildas.

Will I ever get my ten goals 😂

– Julian

C’mon ladies, let’s make it a nice round 10!

– C

Full-time: Australia 10 – 0 Uzbekistan

93′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

Aaaaaand that’s 10!

It’s Amy Sayer’s turn to get on the scoreboard after a nice series of one-two passes between Tameka Yallop and Mary Fowler slice right through Uzbekistan’s midfield, before the ball is fed down the left wing for the onrushing Charlie Grant.

The left-back then clips a dangerous ball back across the six-yard area, spinning chaotically through a bunch of legs, before falling to Sayer at the back post, who swings her left foot through it and finally finds the back of the net.

10-0.

90′ Five minutes of added time

Uzbekistan, to their full credit, haven’t stopped trying.

They’ve had a handful of moves that have ended in the Matildas’ penalty box, including one just now as a handful of players try to build some triangles through the middle before Karachik Lyudmila chips the ball over the top to nobody except Mackenzie Arnold.

They’ve kept Australia to just one goal in this whole half, which is something.

Get ’em out, I say

What’s with the rolled up sleeves? Kennedy, Raso and now Grant.

– Ronan

What, you’re saying you wouldn’t roll up your sleeves if you had the incredible athletic arms of these players?

I don’t think I’d ever wear sleeves again, personally.

Anyone else keen for a Matildas sleeveless guernsey?

Loading

Maybe “Mystical Mary” is a more apt alliteration

It’s interesting you mention Fowler appearing to operate in a different dimension – I think she might be a shape-shifter. There are times she takes the ball into congested traffic and somehow effortlessly appears on the other side still with the ball, or approach in-possession opposition players from behind, pass through them and continue on with the ball…

– Mike

Meanwhile…

Loving the meme posted about Japan v N. Korea. I literally only eat popcorn in for dinner in Matilda’s nights!

– Lulu

Japan lead North Korea 1-0 just after the hour-mark.

It’s been a pretty even affair once again, though: Japan have had 8 shots to 9 (including 2 on target v 4), 58% possession to 42%, and zero corners to 1.

The DPRK could very well claw a goal back and push this second Olympic qualifier all the way to the edge.

You love to see it

I’m in the crowd and there is definitely a growing minority cheering on Uzbekistan… only to be drowned by the manic roar when the Tillies scored that ninth goal!

– Tess

There’s definitely a small Uzbek community here in Australia, and what a joy it must be for them to see their women’s national team playing here in a stadium like this. Love that they’re still cheering for their team, even though they’re 9-0 down.

Wow!

54,120 !!! Wow, a stark contrast to the 2,000 locals at Milliy stadium 5 days ago. It was still amazing to there. 29 other Aussies and myself.

– I Was in Tashkent

I was there in Tashkent 5 days ago. There was 30 Australians in attendance and about 2,000 locals. It was free entry to the match. It was amazing to see them inperson and up close.

– Travelling with Russell

Shout-out to the small group of die-hard Matildas fans who travelled all the way to Tashkent for the first leg, then flew back here to Melbourne for the second.

What an awesome experience!

79′ Uzbekistan substitution

The substitute goalkeeper seems to have had her foot trodden on by her own player during a challenge that involved Amy Sayer, but has stayed in the grass, so the Matildas take the opportunity to grab a quick drink on the sidelines.

There doesn’t seem to be much tactical chat happening. They’re just chilling out until the game ends, really. Mackenzie Arnold, Alanna Kennedy, and Clare Hunt are still on the field, talking amongst themselves. Raso and Torpey are on the far side doing the same.

76′ Shot after shot after shot

It’s honestly been hard to blog this match because the number of chances the Matildas have had is… stratospheric.

Just as I finish describing the build-up to one shot, they’ve found a way to create and let off another. So you just have to imagine the way things have gone based on the below:

Australia have registered 37 shots in total so far, including 17 on target.

70% possession, 85% pass accuracy, and 1 corners.

They’ve been completely, utterly, dominant. That’s the story of the game.

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Matildas triumph 3-0 over Uzbekistan in first Olympic qualifier

Michelle Heyman has scored her first international goal in almost eight years to inspire a 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan and drag the Matildas one step closer to a place at the Paris Olympics.

In their first match since superstar skipper Sam Kerr tore her ACL in January, Australia understandably missed one of the world’s best strikers at the Milliy Stadium in Tashkent.

The Matildas were scratchy and lacked cohesion, while Emily van Egmond had a horror night up forward, missing one sitter and failing to convert two other chances she would normally bury.

Coach Tony Gustavsson turned to Canberra United star Heyman, 35, to replace van Egmond off the bench in the 65th minute, and the veteran delivered just eight minutes later.

In her first appearance since 2018, Heyman headed home her 21st goal for Australia and her first since netting twice against Zimbabwe at the Rio Olympics on August 9, 2016.

Mary Fowler, who was wonderful in the second half, scored a sublime individual goal in the 84th minute, and Caitlin Foord headed home in the 86th to seal victory.

It means Australia will head into Wednesday’s second leg at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium with a crucial 3-0 lead in the tie.

Debutant Kaitlyn Torpey started on the wing, wearing Kerr’s number 20 but was hooked for Foord, who was having her game time managed, at half-time.

Australia had 75 per cent of possession in the first half but just four shots and one on target, but they finished with 26 (eight on target).

They should have taken the lead in the 21st minute when Torpey tried to square for van Egmond instead of shooting.

Hayley Raso dragged a first-time strike wide on the half-hour mark, and shortly afterwards van Egmond hooked over the bar.

Just before half-time, van Egmond failed to get a header on target from point-blank range.

In the 54th minute, Fowler curled a wonderful ball behind the Uzbekistan defence and van Egmond inexplicably failed to tap home.

Heyman headed over the bar a minute after coming on, then delivered the lead when she nodded a corner onto the bar before following up with a second header.

Fowler then intercepted a clearance with a wonderful first touch, weaved between defenders and ripped a fantastic long-range strike inside the near post.

Foord found space and turned home a Steph Catley cross to wrap up proceedings.

Check out how all the action unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

 First of all: whew.

That first half was pretty rusty, as expected, but Tony Gustavsson’s substitutes gave the Matildas exactly the energy and dynamism they needed to unlock what had been, until then, a very solid Uzbekistan defence.

Michelle Heyman will be absolutely buzzing, scoring her first goal since 2016 upon her return to the national team after a four-year retirement, while Mary Fowler and the excellent Caitlin Foord added goals two and three.

You’d have to think the Canberra striker is a lock to start in the second leg in Melbourne on Wednesday: she provided Australia with a target player, height, power, and important movement to bring other players into the game around her.

Now that they’ve made it through this chilly first game, the Matildas return home with wind in their sails and a 3-0 advantage, which is exactly what they would have wanted.

Thanks so much for joining me on the blog for tonight’s game, and I can’t wait to be back here on Wednesday as we see whether the gals can qualify for their third Olympic Games in a row!

See you then!

Full-time: Uzbekistan 0 – 3 Australia

Crowd numbers

Robbie Thompson has said the crowd in Tashkent is just under 2,500 people.

As of today, almost the entirety of Marvel Stadium is sold out for Wednesday’s second leg.

The Uzbekistan players won’t be ready for noise like that, I reckon.

Permutations

What happens if Tillies win tonight and Uzbekistan wins Wednesday night? Who goes to Paris?

– EveWintergreen

It depends on how much Uzbekistan hypothetically win by.

If Australia finish this game 3-0 winners, Uzbekistan would need to win at least 4-0 in Melbourne on Wednesday to qualify for Paris.

90′ Three minutes of time added on

Same, honestly

UZB’s goalie kicking the ball back in the net after the third goal is so real. I would be so frustrated

– Em for Matildas

89′ Australia substitution

Ellie Carpenter comes off for Charlie Grant.

Catchy!

The song we sing here, Hey hey Heyman ooohh ahhh, I wanna know if you’ll kick that goal!

– Canberra is cool

Yiew!!!

And again ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️
Mary Fowler

– Vic in Vic

HaHAAAAAA! Heyman + Fowler

– Big Ben

Mary Mary Mary you beaute

– Em for Matildas

Just my luck. I step out to put stuff in the fridge, and the Tillies score a goal. Belated Hooray, anyway!

– SeonaBath

Floodgates open. Thanks Caitlin! ⚽️💚💛

– Leo

85′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

Caitlin Foord makes it three!

The Matildas have been trying this move all night: a winger chipping a pass in behind Uzbekistan’s defenders to find the head of an attacking player, and this time Caitlin Foord is there, all alone, to nod home a perfectly-weighted cross from Steph Catley.

3-0!

Hail Mary!

Mary Fowler you superstar! 😍⚽️💚💛

– Leo

83′ GOAL AUSTRALIA!

MAGIC MARY FOWLER MAKES IT TWO!

The midfielder has been chipping away at Uzbekistan’s defenders all night, and this time she just goes route one: picking up the ball in deep midfield and dancing past three players all by herself.

She skates towards the top of the box and steadies herself, unleashing her lethal right foot through the rubber to send a shot low and hard across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net.

2-0!!!

82′ Australia substitutions

Aivi Luik replaces Alanna Kennedy, while Tameka Yallop comes on for Hayley Raso.

80′ Chance Australia!

Goodness me, that was almost a bizarre second goal for the Matildas.

A long, dipping cross from Mary Fowler far out on the left wing is falling perfectly into the Zone Of Hesitation between Caitlin Foord and Uzbekistan’s goalkeeper, with both of them thinking the other was going to touch it, only for neither of them to get it at all.

Instead, the ball bounces past all of them and a gasp goes around the ground as it almost nestles into the far corner of the net, but bounces just wide instead.

77′ Matildas want a second

They’ve been attacking Uzbekistan in waves for the past five minutes, coming in at all angles and trying to keep the tempo and pressure up on their opponents.

Catley’s corners have been on-point all night, and are looking like Australia’s best attacking weapon at the moment. Alanna Kennedy could have nodded home the Matildas’ second goal a few minutes ago, but she mistimed her jump. Clare Hunt did the same just now.

You’d think they’ll be working a bit more on finishing their headers in the interim before the second leg of this series on Wednesday night, but wouldn’t it be great to snag one or two more goals here so that the pressure is off in Melbourne?

I sure would love that.

Woohoo!!!!

YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

– Natty

Finally ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ Michelle Hayman

– Vic in Vic

Oh Michelle! I’m in tears! ⚽️💚💛😍

– Leo

CRYING SCREAMING THROWING UP I AM SO HAPPY

– Em for Matildas

Finally! Tillies score off a corner in how long? Thank you Ms Heyman and welcome back.

– Big Ben

72′ GOAL AUSTRALIA!

MICHELLE HEYMAN SCORES IN HER COMEBACK GAME!

A brilliant corner from Steph Catley angles in towards the front post, bobbling off Heyman’s shoulder and clanging off the crossbar.

It could have deflected anywhere, but it fell straight back to her, and she nodded it over the scrambling Uzbekistan defender on the line and into the net.

1-0!

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#Matildas #triumph #Uzbekistan #Olympic #qualifier

Michelle Heyman’s Matildas recall highlights Australian football’s striker problem

When news broke in January that Matildas captain Sam Kerr had torn her ACL, keeping her on the sidelines of the sport for the better part of the next year, a question that had been simmering in the background of Australian women’s football for the past few years suddenly reached boiling-point.

How can the country’s greatest ever goal-scorer be replaced? Which player is ready to step into the 30-year-old’s golden shoes? Who is next in the production-line of Australian strikers?

This question was being asked even when Kerr was fit and healthy. Since the 2019 Women’s World Cup, doubts were festering that the Matildas had become too reliant on the Chelsea forward, and that the team struggled to find the back of the net without her.

Sam Kerr’s ACL injury has put a spotlight on Australian football’s ongoing struggle to develop strikers.(AAP Image: Richard Wainwright)

The 2022 Women’s Asian Cup quarterfinal against South Korea was a case in point: Kerr started that game and had a handful of open-net chances which, for some reason, she failed to finish. The Matildas lost 1-0 and exited the competition at the earliest point in their history.

The question was the subtext to Kerr’s calf injury on the eve of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, too: how on earth would the team perform without their star player? Who else do we have waiting in the wings to take over?

While head coach Tony Gustavsson was able to rapidly shuffle the team’s structure and rely more on other players like Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, Mary Fowler and Emily Van Egmond to step up in her place, Kerr’s memorable goal against England in the semifinal — the only bright spark in an otherwise fatigued performance from the rest of the team — left many wondering how much further the Matildas could have gone had she been available the whole time.

But there is no day-by-day countdown clock on Kerr’s return now, as there was last July. Today, we have certainty that she won’t make a miraculously speedy recovery to be fully fit for the Olympic qualifying play-off against Uzbekistan in about two weeks, nor for the Olympic Games in Paris in just five months’ time. The question has now come into full and urgent focus.

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#Michelle #Heymans #Matildas #recall #highlights #Australian #footballs #striker #problem

Socceroos lose to South Korea in extra time of quarterfinal to be eliminated from Asian Cup

The Socceroos have crashed out of the Asian Cup in heartbreaking fashion, suffering a dramatic 2-1 extra-time loss to South Korea after throwing away a 1-0 lead in Qatar.

Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead when he volleyed home in the 42nd minute in front of 39,632 fans at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Australia then spurned multiple chances to double their lead before a nightmare stint off the bench from right-back Lewis Miller, and two big moments from Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min turned the game in South Korea’s favour.

With Graham Arnold’s charges up 1-0 deep into stoppage time, Miller needlessly dived in late on South Korea’s superstar captain Son, giving away a penalty.

Hwang Hee-chan coolly slammed the spot-kick into the top corner in the seventh minute of injury time to take the game to extra-time.

In the 104th minute, Miller then brought down Hwang on the edge of the area, only for Spurs’ Son to lift a wonderful free kick into the top corner to put South Korea in front.

Australia’s hopes of a comeback were then made all but impossible minutes after the goal when they were reduced to 10 men.

Aiden O’Neill lunged in to attempt to win the ball and caught Hwang with his studs, with his initial yellow card upgraded to a straight red after a VAR referral.

South Korea comfortably saw out the game from there to send Australia packing and tee up a semi-final against Jordan, who beat Tajikistan 1-0 earlier on Friday local time.

For the Koreans, the result partly avenged their 2-1 extra-time loss to the Socceroos in the 2015 Asian Cup final in Sydney. 

Check out how the match unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

Thanks Sam. A disappointing, but not unexpected result. The Socceroos gave all that they had.

Will you be blogging the Tillies v Uzbekistan Olympic qualifier?

– Mark

Football can be a cruel game, and this is one of the cruellest Socceroos games I can remember.

They were literally a minute away from a heroic 1-0 win over South Korea, only for Lewis Miller’s panicked slide tackle in the box handing their opponents a comeback on a platter.

Hwang Hee-Chan’s penalty took the wind out of Australia’s sails, as did the straight red card to Aiden O’Neill after a dangerous tackle on Hee-Chan in the first stanza of extra-time, taking the Socceroos down to ten.

From there, the team faded and faded. Overall, South Korea were good for this win, but Australia will know that this is an enormous opportunity missed, and will linger in the heads and their hearts for a while.

South Korea now progress to the Asian Cup semi-final against Jordan, while the Socceroos will debrief and then go back to their clubs.

There will be plenty of conversation in the coming days about this game and this tournament, but all I’ll say for now is that I am really proud of how the Socceroos played tonight: they did what they do best, showing us the grit and the fight that captured the whole country in 2022.

Like then, it was a joy to bring you their journey here. I’ll be back on the ABC Sport liveblog later this month to cover the Matildas’ Olympic qualifying games against Uzbekistan, which I hope you’ll join me for.

Until then!

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Full time: Australia 1 – 2 South Korea

119′ Chance Korea!

Son Heung-min picks up the ball on half-way and just… jogs forward towards Australia’s defence, with no yellow shirts flooding back with urgency.

He has so much time to choose what to do here as three team-mates flood around. He opts left, sending a perfectly-weighted pass angled left into the box, and his team-mate rockets a shot towards the far post… only for Mat Ryan to throw two big hands at it and palm it away.

The ball rolls out to the other Korean winger, who tries to fire it over Ryan who’s still splayed out in the grass, but somehow it spins out for a goal kick.

Incredible keeping.

116′ Long bombs

Both teams are just pinging the ball over the top of each other’s defences now, hoping one of their fresh-legged forwards can speed in behind the slowing centre-backs and nick a goal.

It’s pretty rudimentary stuff, though. A ball floats in, and is headed away by a centreback. It’s hoofed up-field, only for the opposing centre-back to head it away. It’s been like this for a few minutes as both teams try to figure out what on earth else they can do.

114′ Referee error!

A lovely cross-field pass out to the left for the charging Aziz Behich sees the full-back bring it down beautifully before turning and aiming for a through-ball, but the referee whistles the game dead and points for a free kick to… Korea.

What? The referee gestures for a handball on Behich, but the replay shows the ball was nowhere near either of his arms.

That was such a shame: the Socceroos could’ve carved a rare opening with that run down the wing, but the ref has decided otherwise.

111′ Mat Ryan still flyin’

The Socceroos captain is still on his toes, even if most of his team-mates aren’t anymore.

Australia’s players are making more and more mistakes as they fatigue and lose concentration, but lucky for them Ryan is still wide-awake.

He snapped a shot out of the air a minute ago, and just came sprinting out of his box to calmly collect a through-ball with his foot before passing neatly to a team-mate.

Son Heung-min found too much space a moment later, opening up his body as a sliding Behich came across, but he hooked his shot just wide as Ryan was ready for it to come at him.

So at least we’ve got that.

108′ Behich is down

He’s run a marathon in this game, has Aziz.

Somehow he’s found himself up near Korea’s box, throwing himself around, trying anything to get a foot on the ball and send a cross in.

He tries to work with Bruno Fornaroli, but the ball just doesn’t settle. It’s hoofed into his stomach, and he tries his best to loft the deflection over the Korean defenders and towards the six-yard box, but it floats harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Behich then leans down into the grass and clutches at his stomach. Winded, maybe? He gets up and jogs gingerly away a moment later after the Koreans had lumped the ball out so he could receive attention.

He looks cooked.

106′ Big Man Up Top

Harry Souttar is a centre-forward now.

If you were wondering what Graham Arnold’s “break glass in case of emergency” plan was.

Second half of extra time kick off!

105′ South Korea substitutions

Park Yong-Woo is replaced by Park Jin-seop.

Hwang Hee-Chan, who’s been epic in this match, comes off for Oh Hyeon-gyu.

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#Socceroos #lose #South #Korea #extra #time #quarterfinal #eliminated #Asian #Cup

Socceroos draw 1-1 with Uzbekistan to top Asian Cup group

The Socceroos have sealed top spot in their Asian Cup group but will head into the knockout stage with a dent in their confidence after a flat 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan.

Australia were already guaranteed to reach the round of 16 but needed a win or draw at Doha’s Al Janoub Stadium to finish top of Group B.

Martin Boyle’s spot-kick in the opening minute of first-half injury time, after a dubious hand-ball call on defender Odiljon Hamrobekov following a VAR review, gave Australia a much-needed lead after an uninspiring opening half.

A handful of personnel changes were made after Australia’s 1-0 win over Syria on Thursday, with Riley McGree in particular offering a point of creative difference in an otherwise stale Socceroos attack that was spear-headed by the inexperienced Kusini Yengi, who had replaced the injured Mitch Duke up front.

However, Uzbekistan grew into the match and, come the second half, took almost total control of possession and chance creation. Their effort and energy paid off when substitute Azizbek Turgunboev leapt over Aziz Behich and headed home the equaliser in the 78th minute.

It was Uzbekistan’s first goal against Australia in five meetings, also ending a run of six consecutive clean sheets for the Socceroos.

Uzbekistan finished second on five points, while Syria beat India 1-0 to finish third on four points, sealing progression as one of the best third-placed finishers while knocking out both India and China, who came third in Group A but cannot now progress.

The Socceroos will play the best third-placed team from either group C or D, and will likely be on the opposite side of the draw to tournament favourites Japan.

But there is plenty for Arnold to address, with Australia’s struggles to break down a defence, lack of creativity and a second-half fade-out among the concerns.

Harry Souttar had hearts in mouths in the ninth minute when he turned the ball over to Oston Urunov, only to recover to make the crucial tackle at the last moment.

Australia had the ball in the back of the net in the 11th minute through Kusini Yengi, but it was chalked off for an offside in the build-up.

Yengi’s best moment of the game came at the end of the first half as the striker went on a wonderful weaving run through Uzbekistan’s defence and cut the ball back for McGree, who inexplicably shot wide.

But luck was in Australia’s favour. During Yengi’s run, he attempted to get past Hamrobekov and the ball flicked off the defender’s arm, which he was using to brace his fall, then back into the striker’s path.

After a lengthy VAR review, Hamrobekov was penalised and booked and Boyle drilled the penalty into the bottom corner.

Uzbekistan’s Umar Eshmurodov headed home in the 60th minute but was offside.

It proved a warning shot.

Eighteen minutes later, Turgunboev brilliantly buried a wonderful dipping cross from Jaloliddin Masharipov to ensure Uzbekistan’s progression.

Check out how the game unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

They’d already qualified for the round of 16, but this draw against Uzbekistan means Australia have topped Group B and will play the best third-placed team from somewhere else in the tournament.

Like their first two group games, this was an awkward and rusty performance from the Socceroos. A handful of personnel changes perhaps contributed to that, though Australia’s best players was probably Riley McGree, who earned his first start of the Asian Cup.

But there’s still a question of where more goals can come from. There was a lack of creativity tonight, as there has been over the past two games, and too much sideways possession with not enough activity or improvisation through the central channels.

Graham Arnold will have to solve these problems now. There are no second-chances in knock-out football, and while Australia have done themselves a favour by topping the group and therefore facing a theoretically weaker opponent in the round of 16, they haven’t got long to figure this stuff out before they face a serious title contender.

In any case, there’s one more game on the horizon in five days’ time. And you bet I’ll be here to take you through all the action once again.

Until then, enjoy the rest of your week!

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Full-time: Australia 1 – 1 Uzbekistan

96′ Chance Australia!

A long ball from Souttar is controlled nicely by Kusini Yengi, who eases it out to Marco Tilio on the left.

The winger shimmies past two defenders and clips a cross into the six-yard box, but an Uzbekistan player beats Yengi to the header near the back post.

Help!

Someone needs to do something! …. Sam! … HELP THEM!…

– Mike

I’M TRYING TO MANIFEST THEM ANOTHER GOAL BUT I DON’T KNOW IF IT’LL WORK AHHH

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93′ Long throw

Lewis Miller’s first touch is launching a gigantic long throw into the box, which is chaotically headed out towards the D.

I’m not sure who that is running in – Tilio, maybe? – trying to use their momentum to deflect the ball off their chest and back towards the pack of players, but an Uzbekistan defender gets in the way. The ball is cleared.

92′ Australia substitutions

Jordan Bos and Nathaniel Atkinson are off.

Marco Tilio and Lewis Miller are on – the latter for his Asian Cup debut.

90′ Masharipov pulling strings

The substitute has been excellent since coming on, involved in all of Uzbekistan’s best attacks.

He’s at the heart of one again, connecting beautifully with two team-mates in a tight space as they make their way collectively towards the top left corner of Australia’s box.

His pass almost slices two Socceroos apart, but Kye Rowles flies in to the rescue and hoofs the ball upfield.

90′ Seven minutes of added time

Thanks for reading, Phil!

Thanks for this coverage!

– Phil J

88′ Atkinson is down

The right-back tried a long cross-field switch but totally shanked it and it rolled out for a throw-in near the half-way line.

The defender falls into the grass with his legs stretched out in front of him. It looks like cramp. Yep – an Uzbek player comes along and stretches out his calf for him. He’s up a minute later. He’ll have to keep pushing.

86′ Behich gets forward

Jordan Bos and Aziz Behich have been more involved towards the back-end of this half, with the two trying to muscle and race their way down the left wing.

Behich’s endurance has been particularly impressive given his age and the fact he’s the only defender aside from Harry Souttar to have played every minute of this tournament so far.

He gets in behind Uzbekistan’s three defenders here thanks to a cheeky backwards pass by Bos, but his cross is a tired one and sails all the way across the field for a throw-in.

82′ Uzbekistan substitution

The substitute has to be substituted as Igor Sergeev is carried off the field with that calf problem.

He’s replaced by Jamshid Iskanderov.

82′ Australia double change

The brilliant Riley McGree is replaced by Bruno Fornaroli.

Keanu Baccus is off, too, in place of Aiden O’Neill.

81′ Play paused

Some cheeky footwork by Jordan Bos to nip around Uzbekistan’s substitute Igor Sergeev sees the blue-shirted defender reach down to his calf as he tumbled into the grass.

The Socceroos could have kept charging forward there, but the referee whistles play dead as the physios run onto the field. The stretcher is out, too. It looks like the sub may have popped a calf. Unlucky.

78′ GOAL UZBEKISTAN!

Just as I say that – Uzbekistan have equalised!

Australia’s record run of clean sheets and minutes without conceding comes to an end as the substitute Azizbek Turgunboev rises above Aziz Behich to head home a gorgeous dropping cross from Masharipov on the left wing.

1-1!

Elsewhere…

Syria have taken a 1-0 lead over India, which takes them just below Uzbekistan on goal difference in Group B.

If Syria score twice more, and the current score in our game stays at 1-0 (or Australia score another), Syria could leap-frog Uzbekistan into second.

How good is tournament football!

73′ Uzbekistan keep trying

A very neat series of zig-zag passes by Uzbekistan down the left side sees them slice smoothly through the swarming Socceroos, with Masharipov on the ball near the top corner of the box.

His final pass undoes all that good build-up play, though, as he sends the ball through two yellow shirts where he thought a team-mate would be ghosting in behind but finds green grass instead.

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#Socceroos #draw #Uzbekistan #top #Asian #Cup #group

World Darts Championship: Luke Littler’s dreams ended by Luke Humphries in sensational final

Luke Littler defeated 7-4 by world No 1 Luke Humphries in final; Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday February 1 as Cardiff kicks off the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs on Thursday May 23 at London’s O2

Last Updated: 03/01/24 10:51pm


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Humphries hits the winning darts to defeat Luke Littler 7-4 in the World Darts Championship final

Humphries hits the winning darts to defeat Luke Littler 7-4 in the World Darts Championship final

Luke Littler’s World Darts Championship dreams were finally ended by world No 1 Luke Humphries in a sensational final at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night.

Humphries fought back from 4-2 down to win five consecutive sets and win his maiden world title 7-4 to make it four major victories in a row following his success at the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts, and Players Championship Finals in recent months.

“I’ll draw a lot from this and this will be a moment that will never be forgotten,” Humphries told Sky Sports. “I don’t want to say that I’ve completed darts but everything that you want on the resume I’ve done now, so now it’s now about motivating yourself to do more and more.

World Darts Championship Final

Luke Humphries 7-4 Luke Littler

Humphries said he couldn't ask for more after claiming the World Darts Championship title

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Humphries said he couldn’t ask for more after claiming the World Darts Championship title

Humphries said he couldn’t ask for more after claiming the World Darts Championship title

Littler said: “It has been unbelievable. The one negative was I lost too many legs with my throw so Luke could break me.

“That was the only negative, I just couldn’t hold my own throw and I didn’t win. Every game has been good but that one has just really annoyed me, especially the three missed to keep it going.

“That’s what the crowd wanted but fair play to Luke, he deserves it.”

Humphries started the better by capitalising on a slow start from Littler to take the opening set 3-1 with a 99.2 average despite eight missed darts at doubles.

It didn’t take ‘The Nuke’ long to discover his best in the second set, coming from 2-1 down by producing two 12-dart legs with the aid of a spectacular 142 checkout and a ‘Shanghai’ 120 finish.

Littler hit a 142 and a 120 checkouts to win the second set

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Littler hit a 142 and a 120 checkouts to win the second set

Littler hit a 142 and a 120 checkouts to win the second set

The third set also went the distance with ‘Cool Hand’ edging it from 2-0 down to regain the upper hand with a 116 checkout to take it, but the Warrington teenage sensation struck back to secure the fourth set 3-1 and restore parity with a 99 average and an impressive 47 per cent on the doubles.

It was 2-2 in sets and 9-9 in legs with nothing to separate the two players.

Littler nailed this 122 checkout to the despair of Humphries

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Littler nailed this 122 checkout to the despair of Humphries

Littler nailed this 122 checkout to the despair of Humphries

For the first time in the match, the player who started the set won it after nine break of throws in 22 legs, with World Youth Champion Littler going ahead for the first time in the match before wrapping up the fifth set, averaging a ton.

The new world No 1 found himself under pressure here as Littler made it nine legs from the last 11 to open up a two-set advantage at 4-2.

Humphries reeled in his second 170 finish in a matter of days in a seventh set which was full of carnage.

Humphries took out 'The Big Fish' in the final

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Humphries took out ‘The Big Fish’ in the final

Humphries took out ‘The Big Fish’ in the final

Littler responded with a third ton-plus finish of the final – a 122 checkout – which Wayne Mardle described as “spiteful, dirty, nasty!” in the commentary box, before Humphries survived a set dart before sealing it on double 14 to reduce the deficit.

And Humphries piled in a classy 121 checkout on the bull to make it back-to-back sets to get back on level terms with a 114.17 set average but it also coincided with Littler slightly dropping off.

Humphries took out this 121 checkout in a sensational final

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Humphries took out this 121 checkout in a sensational final

Humphries took out this 121 checkout in a sensational final

The 28-year-old Newbury thrower threw back-to-back 108 checkouts to lead 2-0 in the ninth set and although the teenager battled back to level up, a 180 to start the set and a 36 checkout enabled Humphries to win the leg and set in 11 darts.

Humphries pinned back-to-back 108 checkouts

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Humphries pinned back-to-back 108 checkouts

Humphries pinned back-to-back 108 checkouts

A relentless Humphries made it four sets on the spin as he took full control of the final to go within a set of the title, despite Littler reeling in a ‘Big Fish’ of his own.

However, it was ‘Cool Hand’ who got his hands on the Sid Waddell Trophy to become the 12th different PDC World Champion after pinning double 8 in the 11th set.

Talking about Littler, Humphries said: “I’m not just saying this because it will please everyone, but Luke has been an unbelievable talent.

“Not just about the dartboard, he has been fantastic with all the media that has come about with him and he took the defeat so well.

“He said go on and celebrate. You will never see another down-to-earth 16-year-old kid like him who is just something else.

“I really hope he’s in the Premier League because, if he don’t want to play in it fair enough, but I think he’d be a pleasure to play alongside this year.

“He’s one of the best players in the world, there is no doubt about that.”

Littler nailed his own 170 checkout in an incredible final

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Littler nailed his own 170 checkout in an incredible final

Littler nailed his own 170 checkout in an incredible final

Social media reaction to Humphries win…

Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday February 1 as Cardiff kicks off the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs on Thursday May 23. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW



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Luke Littler reaches World Darts Championship final after beating Rob Cross at Alexandra Palace

Luke Littler, 16, moves one win away from Alexandra Palace glory after crushing Rob Cross 6-2 in semi-finals; Littler will face Luke Humphries in final; We’re back at 7.30pm on Wednesday for the World Darts Championship final – live on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 03/01/24 12:15am


Luke Littler defeated 2018 champion Rob Cross to reach the World Darts Championship final

Teenager Luke Littler made it through to the World Darts Championship final after crushing Rob Cross to go within one match of a remarkable maiden title at Alexandra Palace.

Littler averaged 106.05, hitting 16 maximums and ton-plus finishes of 149, 142 and 132 en route to a magnificent 6-2 victory against 2018 winner Cross at the age of 16.

He will face another in-form player in Luke Humphries, who hit top gear to whitewash Scott Williams 6-0 in the second semi-final to become the new world No 1 and stretch his unbeaten run to 18 matches.

“No words! Crazy to think I’m in a World Championship final in my debut,” Littler told Sky Sports. “I was happy winning one game but I could go all the way!

“You’re playing Rob, he’s a world champion and won on debut. Rob told me ‘God bless, you’re a step away, do it’.

“I’ve just settled on the stage. It took me a few legs to settle in the game and once I found that rhythm I was good to go.”

World Darts Championship Semi-Finals Results

Rob Cross 2-6 Luke Littler
Scott Williams vs Luke Humphries

Littler was greeted by the Warrington Wolves’ mascot during an electrifying walk-on, but it was Cross who stormed out of the blocks and edged a quality set in a deciding leg with a 108.6 average.

It was the first time Littler had lost the first set in the tournament.

Littler showed no signs of nerves as he took out this majestic 142 checkout

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Littler showed no signs of nerves as he took out this majestic 142 checkout

Littler showed no signs of nerves as he took out this majestic 142 checkout

The teenager recovered from 2-1 down in the next set and a crucial 74 checkout in the deciding leg saw him draw level with a 101 average and four 180s.

Cross, the 2018 champion, appeared flummoxed by Littler’s incredible accuracy on the treble 20 bed and it wasn’t long before the 16-year-old moved ahead by cracking in a stunning 142 checkout before hitting the front with a 101.6 average.

The teenager nails an incredible 147 finish during his semi-final with Cross

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The teenager nails an incredible 147 finish during his semi-final with Cross

The teenager nails an incredible 147 finish during his semi-final with Cross

Littler opened the fourth set with an 11-darter and he then struck with a mammoth 149 on double 16 to move 2-1 up in legs.

‘Voltage’ levelled and he then hit six perfect darts in the next leg, but it was the world youth champion who extended his lead with a magnificent 11-darter to move 3-1 ahead averaging 103.8 with nine 180s and 65 per cent on the doubles.

What an extraordinary leg! Cross nearly hits a nine but Littler wins it in 11 darts

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What an extraordinary leg! Cross nearly hits a nine but Littler wins it in 11 darts

What an extraordinary leg! Cross nearly hits a nine but Littler wins it in 11 darts

Cross, who made a remarkable comeback from 4-0 down to beat Chris Dobey 5-4 in their quarter-final on Monday, pinned an unorthodox 138 checkout in the second leg of the fifth set.

Littler missed one set dart at tops to extend his lead, allowing former electrician Cross to pounce and close the gap to 3-2 in sets.

‘The Nuke’ wrapped up the sixth set 3-1 with a 107 average compared to Cross’ 91.58 to restore a two-set cushion with 14 maximums.

Littler had one foot in the final after closing out the seventh set by the same scoreline, averaging 110.55 for sets six and seven.

Littler was running riot at Ally Pally and he produced this outrageous 132 finish in the eighth set on his way to victory

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Littler was running riot at Ally Pally and he produced this outrageous 132 finish in the eighth set on his way to victory

Littler was running riot at Ally Pally and he produced this outrageous 132 finish in the eighth set on his way to victory

The teen star was showboating by now and he raised the roof with a 132 checkout by using the bullseye on his way to Wednesday’s final against three-time major champion Luke Humphries or Scott Williams.

Looking ahead to the final, Littler added: “I’ll do what I’ve been doing. In the morning, go for a ham and cheese omelette, then come here have a pizza and then practice. That’s what I’ve done every day.”

Littler got better the longer the match went on. In the last three sets (13 legs) he averaged 112.62

106.05 match average

12x 180s

47% doubles

Humphries produced a statement victory against ‘Shaggy’ Williams with a 108.74 average, 14 180s, a breath-taking display on the doubles and a sensational six ton-plus finishes.

“It was amazing. I would never have imagined myself to be the world No 1. That is a special feeling. And to do it in style,” said a delighted Humphries.

“I’m really pleased with that performance. But, world No 1 can last for a couple months, World Champion is forever so I’ve got a really tough task tomorrow against Luke.”

Luke Humphries is in scary form after he hit six-ton-plus finishes in his demolition against Scott Williams

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Luke Humphries is in scary form after he hit six-ton-plus finishes in his demolition against Scott Williams

Luke Humphries is in scary form after he hit six-ton-plus finishes in his demolition against Scott Williams

Live World Darts Championship

January 3, 2024, 7:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

How social media reacted to Littler’s win…

The sport’s biggest event sees the final two players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW



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World Darts Championship: Michael van Gerwen suffers shock exit to Scott Williams in quarter-finals


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A look back the best of the action from the evening session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace

A look back the best of the action from the evening session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace

Michael van Gerwen’s hopes of a fourth World Darts Championship title were dashed in stunning fashion by Scott Williams at the quarter-final stage on New Year’s Day.

Williams pulled off a sensational 5-3 scalp of Van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace, punishing 27 missed darts at doubles from the three-time champion to set up a meeting with Luke Humphries.

World Darts Championship: New Year’s Day Evening Results

Michael van Gerwen 3-5 Scott Williams
Luke Humphries 5-1 Dave Chisnall

Rob Cross, only former PDC world champion left and in the semi-finals for the first time since winning the title on debut

Luke Littler, 16 years old, in the semi-finals on his debut

Scott Williams in his first major semi-final

Luke Humphries, the pre-tournament favourite, into his first Ally Pally semi-final

Seasonal prize money prior to the World Championship: £32,750

Minimum prize money at the World Championship: £100,000

Scott Williams is in to the semi-finals and the world’s top 32

Scott Williams produced one of the biggest shocks in World Darts Championship history by beating Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals

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Scott Williams produced one of the biggest shocks in World Darts Championship history by beating Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals

Scott Williams produced one of the biggest shocks in World Darts Championship history by beating Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals

Williams came charging out of the blocks by winning the opening set in straight legs, but ‘Mighty Mike’ took out 81 for back-to-back 11-darters to close out the second set 3-1 with a set average of 116.71 despite missing 12 darts at double.

Van Gerwen took out a magnificent 121 checkout before pinning double 16 to seize the initiative in the third set.

Van Gerwen hits this magnificent 121 finish during his quarter-final clash against Williams

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Van Gerwen hits this magnificent 121 finish during his quarter-final clash against Williams

Van Gerwen hits this magnificent 121 finish during his quarter-final clash against Williams

However, the Dutchman threw in a stinker of a set, averaging just 78, and Williams railroaded it 3-0 to get back on level terms at 2-2.

Van Gerwen appeared to have fallen off a cliff when Lincolnshire showman Williams made it six legs on the spin to lead 3-2, but the three-time World Champion soon restored parity in three consecutive legs to stop the rot.

‘Shaggy’ punished more crucial mistakes from the world No 2 to seal the seventh set 3-1 and go within one of a sensational victory before taking the eighth 3-1 to secure a last-four meeting with either Luke Humphries or Dave Chisnall.

Williams said he probably should have beaten Van Gerwen a bit easier after knocking out the pre-tournament favourite

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Williams said he probably should have beaten Van Gerwen a bit easier after knocking out the pre-tournament favourite

Williams said he probably should have beaten Van Gerwen a bit easier after knocking out the pre-tournament favourite

“I just knocked the best player in the world out,” Williams told Sky Sports.

“He wasn’t the Michael van Gerwen we’ve seen over the last couple of games but that’s not my problem.

“I hit the doubles and probably should have won it a little bit easier. I’m absolutely loving it up there. I love a crowd.”

Wayne Wardle was surprised at how 'erratic' Van Gerwen was during his loss

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Wayne Wardle was surprised at how ‘erratic’ Van Gerwen was during his loss

Wayne Wardle was surprised at how ‘erratic’ Van Gerwen was during his loss

Wayne Mardle called Williams’ win a “massive shock”, but also admitted he did a “number” on the Dutch ace.

“Michael van Gerwen normally loses to someone who is a big hitter already, a world champion or a major champion,” ‘Hawaii 501’ said.

“Scott Williams did a number on him. He was there to clean up when he had to clean up and he held it together so well.

“Even Luke Littler and Rob Cross are giving it… ‘WHAT!?’ What an opportunity for everyone left in the tournament.”

Michael van Gerwen missed 30 doubles in his first three games. He missed 27 against Scott Williams

52.4 per cent (33/63) – First 3 games

29.0 per cent (11/38) – vs Williams

Luke Humphries made it through to the semi-finals with this magical 117 checkout

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Luke Humphries made it through to the semi-finals with this magical 117 checkout

Luke Humphries made it through to the semi-finals with this magical 117 checkout

Williams will take on Humphries in the semi-finals after ‘Cool Hand’ thrashed Dave Chisnall 5-1 with a 103.50 average, a dozen 180s, 40 per cent on the doubles and a high checkout of 164.

The World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championship winner made it 17 victories in a row to break new ground at Ally Pally.

“It felt strange to be the frontrunner for once,” said Humphries. “I have been used to a lot of comebacks for the last few days and it has just been nice to be me.

“It was nice to be in front and keep pushing hard and I didn’t relent. Chizzy played really well, he made it really tough for me.

“I haven’t been myself in the first couple of games. Tonight, we saw the form I have been showing in the last few majors.

“I played as well as I needed to.”

Humphries thinks the Worlds is wide open after Van Gerwen's exit to Williams

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Humphries thinks the Worlds is wide open after Van Gerwen’s exit to Williams

Humphries thinks the Worlds is wide open after Van Gerwen’s exit to Williams

How Littler set up Cross semi-final…

A look back the best of the action from the afternoon session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals

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A look back the best of the action from the afternoon session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals

A look back the best of the action from the afternoon session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals

World Darts Championship: New Year’s Day Afternoon Results

Rob Cross 5-4 Chris Dobey
Luke Littler 5-1 Brendan Dolan

In the afternoon, Luke Littler’s amazing Alexandra Palace journey continued after he became the youngest semi-finalist ever after he beat Brendan Dolan 5-1 in the quarter-final.

‘The History Maker’ Dolan had beaten former World Champions Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson but could not compete with Littler, who finished with an average of 101.93 to thrill his adoring fans inside Ally Pally.

All the best moments from Luke Littler in his quarter-final clash against Brendon Dolan

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All the best moments from Luke Littler in his quarter-final clash against Brendon Dolan

All the best moments from Luke Littler in his quarter-final clash against Brendon Dolan

“It feels unbelievable. I would never have thought I would have got to the semis on my debut year,” he said.

“Brendan was just another opponent in my way and I have brushed him aside and now I am into the semi-final.

“It’s going to take a lot to stop me, based on my performances so far. But it is about whatever Luke Littler turns up.

“I have got the ability to go all the way, if it’s not to be tomorrow night, it’s not to be.

“I know I have got a good chance and I have got a good feeling I could go all the way tomorrow.”

Littler believes he is one of the best in the game at board management and he's thinking about lifting the title

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Littler believes he is one of the best in the game at board management and he’s thinking about lifting the title

Littler believes he is one of the best in the game at board management and he’s thinking about lifting the title

He will meet Rob Cross for a spot in the final after ‘Voltage’ looked dead and buried when he was 4-0 down after barely 45 minutes as Chris Dobey played one of the matches of his life.

However, the off-stage break worked wonders for Cross as the former electrician sparked into life.

He reeled off four sets of his own and then took out 130 to seal a remarkable win but he will have to improve if he is stop the Littler train.

“Everyone loves an underdog story,” he said. “As the public and people looking at the game, everyone loves an underdog story.

“I am not being rude, I am on his side, I love an underdog story.

“It took a bit of pressure off me winning it first time as well.

“He’s fantastic and he deserves all the luck in the world, he is a nice young boy. Tomorrow we play darts, though, and I have to go down to business.”

Cross came back from 4-0 down to Chris Dobey to complete a 'darting miracle!'

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Cross came back from 4-0 down to Chris Dobey to complete a ‘darting miracle!’

Cross came back from 4-0 down to Chris Dobey to complete a ‘darting miracle!’

The teenager was taking selfies after beating Brendan Dolan

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The teenager was taking selfies after beating Brendan Dolan

The teenager was taking selfies after beating Brendan Dolan

What’s happening on semi-finals night at the World Darts Championship?

Luke Littler returns to the Ally Pally stage when he aims for a spot in the World Championship final

Luke Littler returns to the Ally Pally stage when he aims for a spot in the World Championship final

Littler will take on 2018 winner Cross in the first semi-final having already proven he is ready to compete on the biggest stage after taking out UK Open winner Andrew Gilding and his hero Raymond van Barneveld on his way to the last eight and he maintained that form against Dolan on New Year’s Day.

Cross produced one of the most memorable Alexandra Palace comebacks having gone 4-0 to Chris Dobey before reeling off four sets of his own and then taking out 130 to seal a famous win.

Live World Darts Championship

January 1, 2024, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

Luke Humphries will face Scott Williams in the second semi-final on Tuesday

Luke Humphries will face Scott Williams in the second semi-final on Tuesday

Having knocked out three-time World Champion Michael van Gerwen, ‘Shaggy’ Scott Williams will take on ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Humphries as he continues his quest for a maiden Ally Pally title.

Humphries came into the tournament as the favourite after winning three of the last four majors but had endured a bumpy ride to the last eight, surviving a sudden death leg against Joe Cullen in the last round.

But he was back to his best in his quarter-final, dispatching Dave Chisnall 5-1.

The sport’s biggest event sees the remaining players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW



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