Day One at the Mosconi Cup: Team USA squander two-point lead as Filler strikes gold

Europe entered the 2021 Mosconi Cup as favourites, but one thing that the opening day showed was that the Americans are not about to roll over – no matter how much the odds are stacked against them.

Following the withdrawal of Earl Strickland, Team USA seemed deflated in the pre-tournament press conference.

However, once at the table, the visitors showed no signs of quitting having taken a surprise 2-0 lead in the early stages of the event.

Team Europe were able to close the gap and level the score at the conclusion of day one. Nevertheless, if anyone thought this would be a one-horse race, they're certainly being proved wrong.

Here's what went down on the opening day.

Team USA 5-2 Team Europe

One of the most iconic games at the Mosconi Cup is the opening match which sees all ten players at the table in a five-on-five confrontation.

It was Team USA who got out of the blocks early as the legendary Shane Van Boening cleared the first frame without any hassle. Moments later, Albin Ouschan put the Europeans level with a steady frame of his own.

The next two frames provided far more drama as the returning crowd began to make their presence felt.

It all started with Tyler Styer who came out on top in his safety battle with Joshua Filler. Not long after, it was America's captain Jeremy Jones who came out on top in a tense battle against Eklent Kaci.

Jones - who at the last minute replaced Earl Strickland - got off to a shaky start but the veteran was able to refocus and punish his Albanian opponent for missing the three ball not once but twice.

Europe closed the deficit to one point when David Alcaide punished Chris Reinhold for missing his jump shot. However, that proved to be the final frame for the hosts as Van Boening and Skyler Woodward powered the Americans to a 5-2 win.

Styer/Reinhold 5-4 Ouschan/Kaci

Next up was a doubles game which saw Styer and Reinhold take on world number one Ouschan and his teammate Kaci.

While it was far from a perfect display - from either side - this was arguably the game of the night as it went to the deciding frame.

Styer showed his class with a superb jump shot in the opening frame but it was Europe who took the lead after Reinhold failed to bury his shot into the middle pocket.

The second frame was all about safety strategy and it was the Americans who prevailed as Kaci came up with costly errors.

Europe regained their lead but it didn't last long as Styer and Reinhold began to find their groove.

Team USA were also helped by another Kaci error which allowed the visitors to level the game. Moments later, they edged 3-2 ahead.

The sixth frame saw more errors from Kaci and Ouschan as the visitors moved 4-2 in-front. Continous mistakes drew a reaction from Europe's captain Alex Lely who went over to his men during the break.

Whatever he said certainly had an immediate impact as Europe battled back to level the score and take the match to the final frame.

Europe were making good progress and seemed on course for a sensational victory. However, just as they were about to seal the win, Kaci was penalised for taking back-to-back shots.

The mistake allowed the Americans to clean up the table and take a 2-0 lead in the race to 11.

Shane Van Boening 2-5 Joshua Filler

Europe's first point of the Mosconi Cup arrived courtesy of Joshua Filler's masterclass performance against veteran Shane Van Boening.

The game got off to a steady start as both players won a frame each. Moments later, Filler blew the roof off Alexandra Palace as he produced the first Golden Break at a Mosconi Cup since 2017.

With the volume turned up to 12, Filler capitalised on his newly found momentum and went on to win the next frame following a tense safety battle with the American.

Both players shared another frame before Filler closed out the win. The German took full advantage of Van Boening's missed ball in the final frame and cleaned up the table in impressive fashion.

Woodward/Jones 0-5 Alcaide/Shaw

Europe may have started the day slow but the hosts certainly closed out the day in devastating fashion.

Spaniard David Alcaide and Scotsman Jayson Shaw showed class from the very outset as they claimed the opening frame without any problems.

The way the balls spread in the second frame made life difficult for both teams as Woodward and Shaw attempted audacious shots. Fine margins played a decisive factor as the American narrowly missed his effort while the Scotsman superbly potted in the corner. Europe went on to clean up the table and take a 2-0 lead.

Team USA had plenty of opportunities to get back in the contest in the following frame, however a host of errors scuppered any hopes of a comeback.

Instead, it was the Europeans who cleaned up the next three frames to seal an emphatic 5-0 win.

Day two of the Mosconi Cup is likely to provide even more drama as we look forward to three singles and two doubles matches.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the 2021 Mosconi Cup