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Continental Europe storms back at Seve Trophy

The Continental Europe team took 3 1/2 points out of five in Friday's fourball matches to close the gap against the Great Britain & Ireland team at the Seve Trophy.

The GB&I team owns a 5 1/2 - 4 1/2 lead, but Continental Europe dominated the second session of the tournament at Saint-Nom-La-Breteche.

Thomas Bjorn and Raphael Jacquelin clawed back to earn a halve in the opening match against the GB&I pair of Jamie Donaldson and last week's KLM Open winner Simon Dyson.

Ian Poulter and Robert Rock, who won big for GB&I on Thursday, got crushed on Friday. Peter Hanson and Alexander Noren put a 5 & 3 beating on the Englishmen and earned the first point of the day for Continental Europe.

The GB&I team got its only full point next when world No. 2 Lee Westwood and Mark Foster, the only GB&I duo to lose on Thursday, pasted Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari, 5 & 3.

Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal handled Open champion Darren Clarke and David Horsey, 3 & 2, then Nicolas Colsaerts and Matteo Manassero polished off the great Friday for the Continental Europe side with a 2-up victory over Scott Jamieson and Ross Fisher.

This is the first Seve Trophy since the death of the tournament's namesake, the great Seve Ballesteros.

The Ryder Cup legend would've loved how close these matches have gotten and how much is still at stake. On Saturday, there will be four greensomes matches and four foursomes matches, then on Sunday, all 10 players tee it up in the singles, so there are plenty of points still on the line.

Friday belonged to Continental Europe.

In the first match, Bjorn and Jacquelin, who played with different partners on Thursday, fell 3-down after eight, but a Jacquelin par won the ninth, then back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15 squared the match.

The Continental Europe team both badly missed the fairway at the last and Bjorn had to hit his second bent over under a tree. He hit a good shot considering the circumstances, but the GB&I pair had much easier birdie chances.

Bjorn, a three-time winner this season, missed his birdie putt, but he and Jacquelin lucked out when Dyson and Donaldson both failed to convert from much closer.

Hanson and Noren were also split from their day-one partners and the decision paid off when they routed Poulter and Rock, who were brilliant on day one.

"We both played well today," said Noren, a two-time winner this season. "Peter holed so many putts and he made a lot of birdies and he didn't have to putt sometimes."

Westwood played like the No. 2 player in the world on Friday with six birdies and an eagle.

Colsaerts and Manassero were as much as 3-up on Friday, but Fisher and Jamieson inched back thanks to a pair of birdies from Fisher at the 13th and 14th.

Both sides birdied the 17th and when Fisher and Jamieson failed to birdie the last, the victory went to Colsaerts and Manassero. The 18-year-old, the youngest player in the history of the event, rebounded from an especially tough first day.

"I felt better today," said Manassero. "

In the anchor match, Clarke and Horsey got it to 1-down with a Horsey birdie at 11. Clarke hit a spectacular approach inside four feet at the 14th, but pushed the birdie putt. Larrazabal cashed in on a birdie attempt, so what appeared to be at least a halve for GB&I, turned into a 2-down deficit with four to play.

Clarke hit it in the water at the par-three 16th and Jimenez made birdie to get Continental Europe within a single point.

NOTES: GB&I has won the last five contests after Continental Europe won the first playing in 2000.