(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy found form as Great Britain and Ireland's defense of the Vivendi Trophy got off to a positive start after they ended the first day in Paris with a 3-2 lead over Continental Europe.
Rory McIlroy helped Great Britain and Ireland's defense of the Vivendi Trophy get off to a positive start in Paris.
The 20-year-old Northern Irishman partnered compatriot Graeme McDowell and they provided the momentum to give the defending champions of the biennial team event the upper hand on the St-Nom-la-Breteche course.
Without star players such as Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter, Paul McGinley's side are the underdogs but McIlroy and McDowell -- the only non-English players in the team -- proved their worth to defeat Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Alvaro Quiros of Spain 4 and 3.
Chris Wood and Anthony Wall also began well in the tournament-opening fourballs with a surprise 6-and-5 win over highly-favored Swedish duo Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson.
Wood birdied 11 to put the English pair further ahead and then eased home a birdie putt from the cusp of the 13th green to wrap up the match with five holes to spare.
Simon Dyson and Oliver Wilson beat Denmark's Soren Hansen and Sweden's Peter Hanson 3 and 2, although Europe had hit back after Dane Anders Hansen and Italian Francesco Molinari had won 4 and 3 against Robert Rock and Steve Webster.
The fightback continued for Thomas Bjorn's side as Spanish pairing Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano came back from two-down to defeat Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty on the 17th to boost their hopes heading into the second day.
Previously known as the Seve Trophy the Vivendi Trophy was created by Spanish golf legend Severiano Ballesteros intended to give European players a chance to hone their match-play skills in preparation for the Ryder Cup.
In front of Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who cast a watchful eye over the matches, McIlroy admitted he would like to be given the chance to reunite his partnership with McDowell against the U.S.
"I hope it's the start of a long partnership. As long as we stay fit there's no reason why we can't have a partnership for the next 10 years," McIlroy told reporters
McDowell added: "Obviously we're great friends, but this is a chance to show we can gel on the course. There's nothing I would like better than to play with him in the Ryder Cup."
The event continues with five more fourball matches on Friday, followed by four greensomes and four foursomes on Saturday and 10 singles matches on Sunday.