Mosconi Cup: Europe edge closer to another success
The champagne is on ice for Team Europe (photo: Matchroom Pool)

Mosconi Cup: Europe edge closer to another success

The hosts lead 10-3 overnight and are just one rack away from retaining the trophy.

Chris Lincoln

Team Europe produced another excellent display as they fell just one rack short of completing a record scoreline against their rivals at Alexandra Palace.

Holding a 10-2 lead with the final match level at 4-4, Mark Gray and Darren Appleton were edged out by Rodney Morris and Justin Bergman as the Americans ensured they would return for a final day of action.

Europe extend their lead even further

Despite the controversial end to the second session, where game five was rolled over until the third day, it only served to prolong the agony for Team USA.

Shane van Boening continued his bad run of form as both he and Mike Dechaine struggled to find any sort of momentum against an inspired Darren Appleton and Nils Feijen. Europe took the match 5-2, extending their overnight lead from five points to six.

Rodney Morris and Skyler Woodward put up much more of a fight against Jayson Shaw and Albin Ouschan. The Americans arguably looked the most comfortable but, with the game locked at 3-3, Morris missed a comfortable pot to open the table to the Europeans.

Shaw and Ouschan wrapped up that rack, before cruising the final point in a 5-3 victory that could have easily gone the other way.

Ouschan himself had not quite hit the heights of his nine-ball World Championship success and looked nervy against Woodward. However, he pounced on a scratch to go 3-2 ahead, before a foul of his own allowed Woodward to draw level and ultimately take the lead.

Yet Ouschan has developed the self-belief and confidence to dig deep and took the game to a deciding rack. Woodward had the advantage of the break but another scratch allowed Ouschan the opening he required to edge the match and bring back memories of his 2015 winning victory against the same opponent last year.

Europe dominated the table from start to finish (photo: Matchroom Pool)
Europe dominated the table from start to finish (photo: Matchroom Pool)

The hosts are forced to wait another day

The tension was palpable as Darren Appleton and Mark Gray took to the table against Rodney Morris and Justin Bergman, with the Europeans faced with the prospect of winning the 23rd Mosconi Cup.

All four players made surprising errors but it was to be Bergman who potted the crucial final ball, after a simple missed pot by Appleton, to register the opening rack for the visitors.

Yet the European duo were not to be disheartened as Appleton responded with an incredible four-rail positional shot to set up a winning break and draw level.

The experienced campaigner then repeated the magic with a similar shot to help Europe into the lead after a misplaced Morris safety.

A scratch by Appleton after a tactical battle allowed USA to peg the game back to 2-2, though a missed pot by Morris and incredible attacking strike by Gray allowed Europe to restore their advantage.

Any mistake was proving to be the difference and it was Appleton's turn again in rack six as a missed pot allowed USA to level oncemore. Europe could not get to the table as Bergman and Morris sent USA ahead, before the hosts duly returned the favour to set up a final rack decider.

The nerves returned again as both sides made mistakes but Appleton's foul was to prove crucial as USA edged the game 5-4 for and forced a final day.