Premier League darts: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld qualify for play-offs
Last Updated: 03/05/13 7:02am
Phil Taylor: Through to play-offs after victory in Liverpool
Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld secured their places in the Premier League play-offs after convincing victories during round 13 at Liverpool's Echo Arena.
Taylor crushed Robert Thornton 7-2, while van Barneveld overcame Adrian Lewis 7-4 later in the evening, the duo's progress confirmed when James Wade lost to Andy Hamilton in the final contest of the night.
It means both men move to 19 points in the standings and join Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals at London's O2 Arena on May 16.
Having lost to Thornton in Brighton earlier in the campaign, Taylor was out for revenge against the Scot and made a superb start with checkouts of 78 and then a spectacular 164 helping him into a commanding 4-0 lead.
Thornton then began to find his form and got on the board with a fine 138 finish of his own with his opponent waiting on 60, but Taylor responded with a 97 checkout to restore his four-leg cushion.
Thornton would take the next, but Taylor remained in control and finishes of 76 and 68 closed out a resounding triumph for the 15-time world champion.
"Robert Thornton has been one of the best players this year and to beat him is a massive bonus," Taylor told Sky Sports afterwards. "He's a cracking player and full of confidence. Even when you're beating him, he's like a boxer who doesn't stay down when you knock him out, he just keeps getting up again."
On the possibility of a final showdown with van Gerwen, Taylor added: "It's on the cards. I think it's the final everybody would like to see and I would love to meet Michael in the final just like I did in the world championship. I'd love to play him, that's who's inspiring me at the moment."
Van Barneveld could yet have a big say on who makes the final as he maintained his excellent form with a solid win over a lively Lewis.
'Jackpot' paid the price for something of a meltdown in leg six as he missed six darts at a double allowing his opponent to break and pull into a 4-2 lead.
Lewis did break back in leg nine as he found double-10 to make the score 5-4, but that would be as close as he got with Barney taking out 80 in three darts in the next to re-establish control.
The Dutchman wrapped things up by taking out 74 and could yet finish top of the standings if he wins his remaining two matches.