Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Haji ALIYEV (AZE) marked his return to the mat by reaching the final of the European Championships in Budapest. In that process, he set an exciting final against fellow Tokyo Olympian Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN).
The Azerbaijan star led four wrestlers from his country into the final, making it the most successful nation on the first day of the competition.
Aliyev wrestled Maxim SACULTAN (MDA) in the semifinal, and after giving up the initial takedown, he came back to secure a comfortable 12-2 win. He used a big five-point suplex to end the bout.
In his two Monday bouts, Aliyev looked rusty due to the seventh-month break after the Tokyo Games. But if the three-time European champion wants to win his fourth gold, he will have to step up against a familiar foe in Muszukajev in Tuesday night’s final.
The two met in the final of the 2020 Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia, in which the Hungarian wrestler stunned the three-time world champion to win the gold.
Muszukajev began with a 10-0 technical superiority win which included a double-leg throw that earned him five points. In the semifinal, he wrestled Krzysztof BIENKOWSKI (POL) and managed to close off that bout with a suplex to win, 11-0.
He led 1-0 at the break, ironically for a point for inactivity. In the second period, he began with a double leg and got two laces, grabbing the 7-0 lead before the big four-point move.
The rematch Tuesday can be another thriller as the two looked in control of their game. Aliyev’s defense will be put to test once again against the sneaky attacks of the Hungarian world bronze medalist from 2019.
GOLD: Vladimir EGOROV (MKD) vs Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE)
SF 1: Vladimir EGOROV (MKD) df Manvel KHNDZRTSYAN (ARM), 10-0
SF 2: Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE) df Beka BUJIASHVILI (GEO), 10-0
GOLD: Haji ALIYEV (AZE) vs Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN)
SF 1: Haji ALIYEV (AZE) df Maxim SACULTAN (MDA), 12-2
SF 2: Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) df Krzysztof BIENKOWSKI (POL), 11-0
GOLD: Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO) vs Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM)
SF 1: Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO) df Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE), 4-3
SF 2: Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM) df Nicolai GRAHMEZ (MDA), 6-2
GOLD: Ashraf ASHIROV (AZE) vs Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE)
SF 1: Ashraf ASHIROV (AZE) df Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO), 13-7
SF 2: Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE) df Muhammet AKDENIZ (TUR), 15-10
GOLD: Vladislav BAITSAEV (HUN) vs Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE)
SF 1: Vladislav BAITSAEV (HUN) df Erik THIELE (GER), 8-1
SF 2: Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) df Zbigniew BARANOWSKI (POL), 6-4
Source and image: www.uww.org