Double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah won the 5,000m to help Great Britain end the first day of the European Team Championships in third place.
However, world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene could only finish second in his race in Gateshead.
Jessica Judd, 18, who only finished her A-levels this week and had to miss her school leavers' ball to prepare for the event, came first in the women's 800m.
Germany are first overall, with Russia second ahead of Sunday's final day.
Britain last won the competition in 2008, when it was known as the Europa Cup and finished fourth in Stockholm in 2011.
Farah, a London 2012 gold medallist in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, sprinted away from his rivals with 400m left to finish nearly three seconds in front of France's Bouabdellah Tahri.
"It was important to get a result for the team," said Farah. "I love racing at home and I had brilliant support from the crowd."
Team captainPerri Shakes-Drayton ran a European leading 50.50 in the 400m to further add to her dilemma over whether to stick with the hurdles or concentrate on the flat for the World Championships.
Eilidh Child earned an equally dominant victory over the 400m hurdles as she smashed her own Scottish record with 54.42, winning by well over half a second.
The men's 4x100m sprint relay quartet of Adam Gemili, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and James Dasaolu got the baton round safely to win in 38.39.
Essex-based Judd also claimed maximum points for Great Britain as she won on her international senior debut, holding off a late challenge from Russian rival Ekaterina Sharmina.
Judd, the world junior bronze medallist, only finished her exams - chemistry, biology and PE - on Wednesday and said: "I can actually celebrate now. My leavers' ball was on Friday so I couldn't go.
"A lot of people go on about juniors not being able to progress to senior level. I gave it my all and am so happy."
Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford came third in the long jump, while European indoor pole vault champion Holly Bleasdale failed three times at 4.25m, the first height she attempted, after suffering with back and Achilles injuries.
Elsewhere, there were second-place finishes for Nigel Levine in the 400m, Charlie Grice in the 1500m and Laura Weightman in the 3,000m.
EUROPEAN TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
AFTER DAY ONE OF TWO
1. Germany 195 pts, 2. Russia 194 pts, 3. Great Britain 181 pts, 4. Poland 166 pts, 5. France 164.5 pts, 6. Ukraine 160.5 pts, 7. Spain 123.5 pts, 8. Italy 123 pts, 9. Turkey 102 pts, 10. Greece 76 pts, 11. Belarus 75.5 pts, 12. Norway 67 pts.
HOW THE CHAMPIONSHIPS WORK
There are 20 men's and 20 women's events. Winners of individual events and relays score 12 points, with second place getting 11 points, continuing down to one point. A nation's score is the total combined points of its men and women.