Continental Europe claimed a two-point lead after day one of the Seve Trophy as Jose Maria Olazabal’s side look to end a run of six straight defeats.
Scottish pair Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher beat veteran duo Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn 3&2 to give Great Britain and Ireland an early lead at St Nom La Breteche.
However, Europe were ahead in the remaining four fourballs as that match finished and went on to win three and halve the other to lead by three and a half points to one and a half.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Nicolas Colsaerts beat Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson 5&3 to level the scores before Mikko Ilonen and Thorbjorn Olesen survived a nervy finish to defeat Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood on the 18th, ending Wood’s unbeaten record in the event.
Francesco Molinari then birdied the last to ensure he and Matteo Manassero snatched a half against Paul Casey and Simon Khan, before Joost Luiten and Gregory Bourdy beat Jamie Donaldson and David Lynn 2&1.
Asked what pleased him the most about the day, Olazabal said: “The way the youngsters played; Joost played extraordinarily well today and made a bunch of birdies, Thorbjorn also played very well.
“It was a great experience for them but the main thing is to win points and I think the team is really happy today.”
GB&I captain Sam Torrance added: “They played very well. Our boys played very well too but they made a few more birdies than us. Our turn tomorrow.
“You put your best match out first and they stood up to be counted with a great win, Fleetwood and Wood had a great comeback and that could have gone either way. It looked like 4-1 down and it almost could have turned to 3-2 ahead but that’s golf.”
Olazabal had opted to send out his most experienced pairing first with Bjorn having played in all but one of the previous contests – captaining the side instead in 2009 – while Jimenez is the only player to compete in all seven. But they eventually succumbed to three birdies in the last four holes from former Open champion Lawrie and rookie Gallacher. “It’s always nice to win,” said Lawrie. “Obviously there is a little bit more pressure when you are going out there first, you want to get a point on the board which we managed to do and we both combined very well today.”
Fernandez-Castano and Colsaerts carded seven birdies and closed out their match with a conceded eagle on the 15th, Ryder Cup star Colsaerts adding: “It’s totally up to Gonzalo, he played fantastically well today.”
Ilonen and Olesen were two up with three to play before gifting their opponents the 16th when they both found water off the tee, but Fleetwood and Wood were unable to birdie the par-five 17th and Wood missed from eight feet on the last to snatch a half.
There was never more than one hole in the match between Molinari and Manassero and Casey and Khan, the latter pair making birdies on the 15th and 16th to go from one down to one up with two to play. However, Molinari then got lucky that his wild drive on the 18th finished on an adjacent fairway and gave him a perfect line into the green, the Ryder Cup star duly hitting a superb approach to six feet for a birdie.
The best golf of the day came from the in-form Luiten, who covered the front nine in an approximate 29 as he and Bourdy saw off Donaldson and Lynn.
Latest score: Continental Europe 3½ Great Britain & Ireland 1½
(Continental Europe names first):
Thomas Bjorn & Miguel Angel Jimenez (Europe) lost to Stephen Gallacher & Paul
Lawrie (Gbr & Irl) 3&2
Thorbjorn Olesen & Mikko Ilonen (Europe) bt Tommy Fleetwood & Chris Wood (Gbr & Ire) 1 hole
Matteo Manassero & Francesco Molinari (Europe) v Paul Casey & Simon Khan (Gbr & Irl) match halved
Joost Luiten & Gregory Bourdy (Europe) bt David Lynn & Jamie Donaldson (Gbr & Ire) 2&1
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano & Nicolas Colsaerts (Europe) bt Marc Warren & Scott
Jamieson (Gbr & Irl) 5&3
DAY TWO TEE TIMES
1035 Paul Casey & Simon Khan v Mikko Ilonen & Thorbjorn Olesen
1050 David Lynn & Scott Jamieson v Francesco Molinari & Matteo Manassero
1105 Jamie Donaldson & Marc Warren v Thomas Bjorn & Miguel Angel Jimenez
1120 Tommy Fleetwood & Chris Wood v Joost Luiten & Gregory Bourdy
1135 Paul Lawrie & Stephen Gallacher v Nicolas Colsaerts & Gonzalo Ferndandez-Castano