Northern Ireland Open: O'Sullivan knocked out by Wilson as Williams beats Higgins

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Kyren Wilson shake hands before their encounter in Belfast on Wednesday
Ronnie O'Sullivan was having his first ever game against Northamptonshire player Wilson

Ronnie O'Sullivan exited from the Northern Ireland Open as Kyren Wilson held his nerve to earn a 4-3 last-16 win over the five-time world champion.

Wilson, 24, took the opening three frames in Belfast helped by a series of long pots before O'Sullivan levelled by firing three successive centuries.

However, Northamptonshire man Wilson's 70 break secured a thrilling win.

Welshman Mark Williams ended John Higgins' winning run as he clinched a 4-1 last-16 win over the in-form Scot.

Home hope Mark Allen had to fight back from 2-0 down to sneak a 4-3 win over Tyneside man Gary Wilson in a desperately scrappy late night contest.

O'Sullivan, 40, was beaten by Higgins in the final at last week's Champion of Champions event in Coventry and was hoping for a morale-boosting triumph in Belfast ahead of the UK Championship.

However, last season's Shanghai Masters champion Wilson produced superb long potting early on to largely shut out O'Sullivan, who did spurn a glorious chance in frame three after his opponent broke down while on a break of 63.

A tremendous opening long red allowed O'Sullivan to respond with a quickfire 108 break in frame four and he punished a missed pink from Wilson with a run of 117 in the next before a contribution of 126 levelled the contest.

John Higgins
John Higgins' hopes of a third title in three weeks were ended by Mark Williams

At that stage, Wilson had potted only one ball in three frames but he regrouped to close out the match with his nerveless 70 in his first meeting with O'Sullivan.

"You are the underdog against Ronnie, and you are expected to lose by everybody so I was on a win-win really," said world number 15 Wilson after his win.

Wilson will face another ex-world champion Williams in the quarter-finals on Friday after the Welshman overcame Higgins.

Higgins went into the Belfast tournament aiming for a third title in as many weeks after his triumphs at the China Championship and Coventry event.

The four-time world champion compiled a maximum 147 in his victory over Sam Craigie on Wednesday but after whitewashing China's Zhou Yuelong on Thursday afternoon, he was unable to overcome Williams in the evening.

Antrim player Allen was woefully out of sorts as Tyneside man Wilson, helped by a break of 42 in the first frame, moved into a 2-0 advantage as both players missed a host of chances.

Allen briefly found some fluency with a break of 79 in frame three and then levelled after Wilson, 31, missed a series of chances to win the fourth, which included him inexplicably turning down a couple of frame balls on the colours.

Another 70 break helped Allen move 3-2 ahead but the Antrim man wasted a glorious chance to seal victory in the sixth following Wilson's initial 54 break as he failed to exploit a fluke on the final red by losing position on the final green.

Wilson, a beaten finalist at the 2015 China Open, was in first again in the final frame but a missed pink allowed Allen to register a crucial break of 42 and after both players missed further chances, the home player's further run of 36 secured his quarter-final meeting with Anthony Hamilton.

Barry Hawkins and Michael White both produced match-clinching century breaks to complete respective 4-0 and 4-2 wins over Jack Lisowski and Dominic Dale while Romford's Mark King and Iran's Hossein Ayouri also progressed to the last eight.