Euro whitewash puts them in Mosconi Cup driving seat

A triumphant Ralf Souquet

TEAM EUROPE had one of their best ever Mosconi Cup sessions as they whitewashed their American opponents 3-0 in the Friday evening matches to claim a 6-3 lead. It was all the more impressive as all the games were singles – an area that has never been the European's strongest suit.

Team captain Johan Ruijsink's strategy was spot on as he threw his two rookies out early and backed them up with Ralf Souquet, probably the strongest player in the world this year.

Spain's David Alcaide opened the proceedings, upsetting the odds as he overcame US Open champion John Schmidt by a 7-5 scoreline. It was an excellent showing from the Malaga-based Alcaide as he fought every inch of the way to secure the win.

There was more joy in the Euro camp on match two as Imran Majid (England) put on a career display to take out American captain Johnny Archer 7-2.

It was a massive upset and a hammer blow for the Americans as Majid pressurized an out-of-sorts Archer from the off. Nobody would have predicted a five game winning margin but it never looked in doubt.

There was some controversy from Corey Deuel in his pre-match interview as he accused Imran Majid of sharking Johnny Archer, saying he was ‘a disgrace to pool and he should not play in this competition again.'

He later apologized but it all added fuel to the fire. Deuel though had a bigger fight on his hands in the shape of Ralf Souquet and it was the composed German who grabbed the match by the scruff of its neck. The outcome was never in question as Souquet ran out a 7-2 winner.

Match Reports

David Alcaide 7 – 5 John Schmidt

DAVID Alcaide put Europe in front for the first time with a fine singles victory against John Schmidt.

Alcaide, at 27 years old the youngest player in the tournament, recorded a 7-5 win to put the European side 4-3 in front.

Schmidt won the lag but then lost position and that enabled Alcaide to take a shock lead. However, it did not last long as Alcaide overhit a planned safety on the 4-ball but left a long pot, which Schmidt did well to convert and that led to him making it 1-1.

The American then ran through the third rack to take a 2-1 lead, in this race to seven match. But Alcaide was holding his own and showed it would be a close tie as he ran out the fourth rack for 2-2.

Both players were making very few mistakes and, considering this was their first individual match in the Mosconi Cup, it was an impressive performance from both men.

Schmidt clinched the fifth rack but then scratched in the sixth and that enabled Alcaide to level the score at 3-3.

In the seventh rack, Schmidt downed the 1-ball, 4-ball and 5-ball from the break and with a shot on the blue two and just like the early part of this match, made no mistakes to edge his way back in front.

Schmidt tried a 1-4 carom in the next but missed and left a possible 1-4 combination, which Alcaide made to set him up to run through the rest of the balls as, once again it became level.

After eight near-perfect racks, both players made some errors in the ninth as Alcaide scratched and left the 1-ball over the pocket. But Schmidt later failed to take a chance at the pink four and Alcaide went in front for the first time since the opening rack.

He broke in the tenth rack and sunk the 7-ball and left himself a shot on the one. A 3-9 combination gave him a two-rack advantage and took the Spaniard to the hill at 6-4.

Schmidt kept his hopes alive by winning the next after Alcaide scratched after a jump shot on the 1-ball. But the American could only watch as Alcaide broke and had a shot at the 1-ball and then ran out to seal the victory.

Imran Majid 7 – 2 Johnny Archer

IMRAN Majid recorded a fantastic 7-2 singles victory against American captain Johnny Archer. The result took Europe into a 5-3 lead, the first time they had been two points ahead.

A lot of credit for the performance has to go to Europe's non-playing coach Johan Ruijsink who got the full benefit from being brave enough to put the two European debutants into early singles action and was rewarded with two victories.

Majid could hardly hide his delight after the victory. He said: "Being on the TV table, this is probably the best result of my career. It was hard to get the last couple of racks and there was a lot of pressure. But I was getting good advice from the more experienced players like Mika and Ralf.

"The crowd does help with the clapping and cheering and it got me over the line. It's a great crowd and I want them to keep it up for the rest of the tournament.

“I tried to block it out that I was playing against Johnny Archer who is one of the best players in the world and the No.1 American. He was a big favourite and I'm just pleased to win.

"We are very well prepared for this tournament we've got a good chance and he's put us through some good techniques. We're better prepared than the Americans."

The Englishman made a good start as he sealed the lag by the narrowest of margins and American captain Johnny Archer remained in his seat through the first rack as Majid run out.

But Archer then did likewise in the second to make it 1-1 in this first-to-seven encounter before Majid sealed the third to restore his one-rack lead at 2-1.

There had been few mistakes in the first three racks but Archer made an error in the fourth as he lost position on the green six and left it more difficult than he would have liked.

The American captain subsequently missed his next shot and Majid sunk the remaining four balls on the table to take what looked to be a crucial 3-1 lead. It should have become 4-1 as Archer tried a one-rail escape to hit the one ball in the fifth rack but misjudged the effort and left a chance at the same ball for Majid.

But Majid missed the brown five before both players started to show their nerves as they failed to convert the 9-ball. Archer could not believe his luck as he made it 3-2 when it should have been 4-1 to the Englishman.

However, Majid again moved two racks ahead after an error-filled spell of play from Archer saw him miss the pink 4 twice, when he would have been expected to convert either chance.

A 4-5 combination from Majid helped him to another rack as he closed in on the seven needed for the win.

Archer broke in the eighth and looked to make it 5-3 but, after doing well to pot the six and seven balls, missed the 8-ball by some distance and left a gift for Majid as the ball remained just over the pocket.

He made it 6-2 and with the break in the next was always favourite to seal the victory, which he did as Europe moved two points ahead for the first time.

Ralf Souquet 7 – 2 Corey Deuel

RALF Souquet gave Europe a 6-3 lead with a superb 7-2 singles victory against Corey Deuel. It completed a fantastic day for the Europeans, who had trailed 2-1 but then won five of the six matches on Day Two at the Cruise Terminal, Rotterdam.

"I made two good jump shots perfectly and if they hadn't worked out then the whole match could've turned," said Souquet. "I want to thank all my team mates. Imran and David played great in their singles matches and that made it easier for me.

"We've got a great team this year and the whole atmosphere is great. I would like to thank Johan our coach who keeps us sharp."

Souquet took a lively opener with the break before Deuel delivered his patented soft break. With no pot on the one ball, the American snookered Souquet who potted the yellow with a jump shot.

The German snookered Deuel after tucking the cue ball down table away from the 2 ball and the American fouled using the jump stick. From there with ball in hand, Souquet completed the run out to take the rack against the head and open up a 2-0 lead.

A safety battle ensued following Souquet's break but he ended it with a superb jump shot to pocket the 1 ball and gain shape on the blue 2 and the German ran the table to take the score to 3-0.

There was more safety in the next before Deuel hooked his opponent up table and Souquet fouled trying to escape under pressure of the shot clock.

With ball in hand, Deuel looked masterful in negotiating the table, including a nasty looking cluster by the spot, to reduce the deficit.

Souquet won the next before a fantastic 2-9 combination from Deuel kept his hopes alive of winning the last match of the second day. But The German sealed the seventh rack and at 5-2 ahead, Deuel would have to be at the top of his game to save the tie.

A decent snooker by Deuel forced Souquet to miss the 1 ball but with ball in hand, the Amercan ran out of position and hooked himself on the pink 4. He made contact but left it on for the German.

Souquet gratefully acepted the gift and methodically went through the table to reach the hill at 6-2. The German then sealed the victory to put the final touches to a fantastic Day Two from Team Europe.