Europe led in all the afternoon’s foursomes matches at the Ryder Cup after a disappointing morning left them trailing 3-1 to the United States in Paris.
Captain Thomas Bjorn resisted the temptation to make major changes for the afternoon, and it paid dividends as his side claimed the advantage to turn the board blue.
Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson raced three up after seven holes and Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren fared even better, cruising four holes ahead of Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, who were three over par.
Rory McIlroy, who endured a nightmare morning, and his playing partner Ian Poulter also bounced back from two down after three to move one ahead after eight holes.
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari – Europe’s only winners of the morning – were two up after five.
Bjorn admitted earlier this week he dreaded a repeat of the first morning’s whitewash at Hazeltine – where he was a vice-captain – which set the United States on their way to a 17-11 victory in 2016.
And only some late heroics from Molinari and Fleetwood prevented that from happening at Le Golf National, Europe’s final pair recovering from two down with eight to play to beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3&1.
Bjorn’s gamble of playing four of his five rookies in the opening session backfired, although the Dane was hardly helped by an insipid performance from McIlroy, who was amazingly the only player not to make a single birdie.
McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen won just one hole when Olesen’s par on the eighth proved enough to give them the lead, but the European pair managed just one birdie from then on as they slumped to a 4&2 loss to Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
Justin Rose and Jon Rahm twice enjoyed a two-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau in the opening match, but were pegged back to all square when Finau’s water-bound tee-shot on the 16th hit a wooden sleeper surrounding the hazard and bounced up to within three feet of the hole.
And when Rose found the water with his approach to the 18th, the American duo were able to make a regulation par to pull off an unlikely victory.
Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton fell three down to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas when Spieth made five birdies in the first seven holes, but the English pair fought back superbly to get back on level terms after 13 holes, only for Thomas to crucially birdie the 15th and hold on for victory.
Molinari and Fleetwood were also in danger of suffering defeat when they lost three holes to par on the front nine to trail by two with eight to play, but Molinari birdied the 11th and 12th, Fleetwood repeated the feat on the 15th and 16th and Molinari finished it in style with another birdie on 17.