England win World Cup opener

Defending champions England got their Betfair World Cup of Darts campaign off to a flying start with a 5-0 victory over Japan at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg.

Phil Taylor and his predecessor as world champion Adrian Lewis combined to see off Haruki Muramatsu and Sho Katsumi without dropping a leg, a result that ensures they will progress from Group A to the last 16.

"We were both under pressure; but we got the job done," said Lewis, who closed out victory in the best-of-nine pair contest on double eight.

Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld were made to work a bit harder in Group E, the Netherlands duo eventually earning a 5-3 win over Poland's Krzysztof Kciuk & Krzysztof Ratajski.

Ratajski had taken out a 121 checkout to cut Poland's deficit to 4-3 but Van Gerwen made no mistake on double top in the next leg.

Australia, beaten finalists last year, are also safely into the knockout stage thanks to a 5-1 success against Croatia.

Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson dropped the opening leg to Robert Marijanovic and Tonci Restovic before reeling off the next five in the Group G contest.

Scotland, represented by Gary Anderson and Robert Thornton, held off a comeback from Canada pair John Part and Jeff Smith to earn a 5-3 victory in Group C.

Anderson and Thornton led 4-0, Canada took three in a row, but Thornton - who had missed two match darts in the sixth leg - closed out the win with a 60 checkout.

It was a good night for the home nations as Northern Ireland (Brendan Dolan and Michael Mansell) saw off Belgium (Kim and Ronny Huybrechts) 5-2 in Group H and Wales (Mark Webster and Richie Burnett) beat Spain (Antonio Alcinas and Carlos Rodriguez) by the same scoreline in Group H.

William O'Connor and Connie Finnan powered the Republic of Ireland into the last 16 courtesy of a 5-0 success against Denmark's Per Laursen and Jann Hoffmann in Group B.

Germany's Jyhan Artut and Andree Welge prevailed 5-3 against Finland duo Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula in Group F in the final match of Friday's action.