Westwood defies the European fightback

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The Independent Online

Continental Europe's captain Jean van de Velde praised his team as they fought back to trail Great Britain and Ireland by a single point after the second day of the Seve Trophy at Saint-Nom-La-Breteche.

The Europeans won three of the five fourball pairings and halved another to slash their overnight deficit from 4-1, to 51/2 - 41/2, despite some heroics from GB&I's Lee Westwood.

The change in fortunes justified Van de Velde's changes to the pairings, while his opposite number, Paul McGinley, stuck with the combinations that did so well on the opening day.

Van de Velde said: "I'm very proud of what they've done. They were really focused from the first hole. Yesterday was a shaky start and some of them couldn't find their rhythm."

The Continental Europe coach was especially pleased with the efforts of No 1 pairing Thomas Bjorn (right) and Raphaël Jacquelin, who fought back from three-down to square the match against Simon Dyson and Jamie Donaldson and take a crucial half.

"It was a big half-point on the first game," Van de Velde said. "They were trailing all the way and managed to raise their game in the last five holes."

It seemed the Europeans were in dominant mood after the pairings were mixed up from the opening day.

Miguel Angel Jimenez and fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal beat British Open champion Darren Clarke and partner David Horsey 3&2, and the rookie European pairing of Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Italian Matteo Manassero claimed a two-up win over Scott Jamieson and Ross Fisher.

Van de Velde's trust in inexperienced duo Colsaerts and Manassero paid off as they found their rhythm, having lost by one hole against Darren Clarke and David Horsey on day one.

Van de Velde added: "Matteo is 30th in the world so, of course, he's a rookie but he's a pretty good rookie. You still have to implement the trust you have in them. They held on through the pressure."

McGinley said that he was disappointed after the change in fortunes for his team but saved special praise for world No 2 Westwood. The pairing of Westwood and Mark Foster was his only real positive, as they hammered Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari 5&3.

"We didn't play with the same intensity," McGinley said. "A couple of their players played really well. We didn't hole the putts we did yesterday."

Speaking of Westwood, McGinley added: "I think he won that match on his own. Fozzy [Foster] was great when he needed to be but Westwood made birdies and eagles when he needed to. He carried the team."