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Mark Allen has stunning opening session at Crucible against John Higgins

By Ross Lawson

Northern Ireland's Mark Allen was in flying form in Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre to take the early advantage after the opening session of his Betfred World Championship second-round clash.

The Antrim potter looked in super touch against John Higgins in their best-of-25 clash, boasting a 5-3 lead heading into Saturday's second session in a repeat of the 2009 semi-final.

Three hundreds strengthened Allen’s advantage as he defied the form that had seen him struggle this season and put him in a strong position to take his first quarter-final since 2011.

Four-time champion Higgins kept his ahead afloat however, winning two frames in a session where he was generally outplayed on the baize.

Allen wasted no time getting going in the Crucible, as impressive breaks of 71 and 65 saw him take the opening frame in style.

It was to get better soon after as Higgins was once again kept in his chair, Allen rattling in a break of exactly 100 – amassing 236 points before his Scottish opponent even had got on the board.

Higgins was soon up and running in the third frame however, scrapping his way over the line with three mini-breaks, in some ways grateful just to have time on the table.

And Allen would have been disappointed to go into the mid-session interval all square, Higgins drawing the game back to parity with a break of 70.

The clinical edge returned to the Antrim cueman however, crashing in an effort of 102 to once again restore the lead.

Still the big breaks were to come for the world No.11, with 129 fired in without response from Higgins as the two-frame lead returned at 4-2.

You’d have struggled to believe Allen has made just one ranking quarter-final this season having watched this performance, then spurning the chance of a third century in succession when he missed the pink when on 84.

By that point he had scored more than 300 points without response, with a 98 per cent pot success perfectly demonstrating the domination he had.

Allen was to pot with his first shot on the eighth and final frame of the session too, with the game looking a far cry from their deciding-frame dual at the 2017 Dafabet Masters.

Allen prevailed on that occasion to edge the head-to-head record, and he looks in strong touch to maintain that advantage, though Higgins scrapped a vital eighth and last frame of the session, ending on 5-3.

The winner of this tie goes on to face either 2015 champion Stuart Bingham or Kyren Wilson in the last eight.

Watch the Snooker World Championship Live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds

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