Scotland's John Higgins is into the second round of the European Open after whitewashing a below par Barry Pinches at the Hilton Conference Centre in Malta. Higgins, the fourth seed, thrashed Pinches 5-0 after the Norwich professional failed to engage anything approaching top gear.

Pinches is enjoying his best ever season after reaching his first ranking event quarter-final in 14 years as a pro at the UK Championship last November. Last month he beat highly rated Chinese teenager Ding Jun Hui to reach the final qualifying round of the Embassy World Championship.

But his highest break in the first three frames against Higgins was just 15 and he improved on this only with a 33 in the fourth. And Higgins, who began the match with a run of 68, finished it off with a 132 to complete the rout.

"Barry has had a great year so I was expecting a much tougher match but he didn't play at all and that made it much easier," said Higgins, who is searching for his first major title since winning the Irish Masters in March 2002.

Filed by Johnny Proby