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PHIL TAYLOR claimed his 11th World Matchplay title with an 18-12 win over Raymond van Barneveld at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Sunday night.

Taylorpicked up his third successive Blackpool win and a £100,000 cheque with a thrilling performance to see off the Dutchman, who played his part in a superb final.

Van Barneveld stayed with Taylor for much of the game, but Taylor crucially pulled from 11-9 to lead by four legs - and held that advantage to close out victory.

"I^m absolutely ecstatic," said Taylor. "I love this tournament and no matter how many times I win it it^s a tremendous feeling to get hold of this trophy.

"The final had a bit of everything. I was a brilliant game and there were times when I had to dig in and times when I was cruising.

"Barney gave me a great game but I^ve worked really hard to prepare for this. I love it when Barney challenges me and his career is back on track, so he^s got to see this week as a positive.

"I love this tournament, I love being in Blackpool and I scrapped my heart out to keep this title."

Taylor landed a 180 in the game^s opening leg, but van Barneveld took out double two to lead, before hitting a 177 in the second only for Taylor to finish 79 in two darts.

Taylor missed double 11 in the next leg as van Barneveld landed double 18 to hold throw, and the cat and mouse continued as the players held for the next three legs to leave the scores tied at three-all.

Taylor secured the crucial first break in the seventh leg to lead 4-3, with van Barneveld hitting a 180 but missing darts at double 18 and double nine before the world number one pounced on tops to break.

Double eight in the next saw Taylor move 5-3 up, and the pair traded the next seven legs - with the Englishman landing an 11-darter and van Barneveld hitting two 13-dart finishes - before another key moment.

Van Barneveld set up a potential break to level in the 16th, with a 180 leaving 24, only for Taylor to finish 105 on double 16 for a 9-7 cushion.

The Dutchman replied with an 11-darter and was waiting on 67 for the chance to break in the next - but this time Taylor took out 135 to thrill the capacity crowd at the Winter Gardens and leave van Barneveld reeling.

Taylor kicked off the next with a maximum and broke once more for an 11-8 cushion, although he was off-target on the bull in the next before the Dutch ace landed a 136 checkout for his first break of throw.

A chance to hit back further passed van Barneveld by in the 21st leg, with a missed double 16 allowing Taylor back to the oche on double top, before he then won the next for a 13-9 lead.

Van Barneveld won three of the next five to give himself hope of a comeback at 15-12, but he could only watch in the next as Taylor landed double 16 before bursting his score on 65 as the Stoke legend moved a leg away from the win.

Opening scores of 140 and 180 from Taylor gave him the upper hand in the next, and he posted double 16 to complete another superb Blackpool triumph.

"As soon as I broke his throw I knew I just had to keep mine. Even when I was under the cosh I went out on some big shots; the 135 was an absolute belter and it hurt him.

"I had a 105 average and I^m over the moon, absolutely made up to win. I^ll celebrate this tonight but the European Championship starts on Thursday and I^m going to prepare for that."

He added: "England might have lost the World Cup but this was England v Holland tonight and I^m delighted to have won it for my country as well!"

Van Barneveld had returned from a two-month break with a nine-darter in his win over Denis Ovens in the first round, and also saw off Alan Tabern, Co Stompe and James Wade to reach his first Blackpool final.

"He never seemed to miss doubles," said van Barneveld. "You know that before the game and he just keeps hurting you, and that^s why he is the greatest.

"Phil keeps improving all the time and it^s so disappointing for me. I keep putting in more preparation and it never seems enough.

"I^m the number two at the moment, and players like James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Gary Anderson are all trying but he^s just too good for everyone.

"I hit a nine-darter in the first round and that is an achievement but it^s only one leg. I enjoyed this week but the final was disappointing."

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World Matchplay results.

Phil Taylor beat Raymond van Barneveld in the final.

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