Haji Aliyev and Jabrayil Hasanov reached the top of a continental podium for the third time in their careers to help Azerbaijan establish a five-point lead over Russia going into the final day of freestyle action at the European Wrestling Championships in Romania’s capital Bucharest.
Defending champion Aliyev registered a 7-0 win against Turkey’s Selahattin Kılıçsallayan in the 65 kilograms final at Polyvalent Hall Bucharest.
He now has as many European titles as he does World Championship gold medals.
Last year’s world silver medallist Hasanov was the second Azeri to claim a European crown today, triumphing at 79kg after Russia’s Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov was unable to compete due to a right knee injury he picked up in yesterday’s semi-finals.
Azerbaijan also picked up points from Aghahuseyn Mustafayev's second-place finish at 70kg and bronze medal-winning performances from Mahir Amiraslanov and Nurmagomed Gadzhiyev at 57kg and 97kg respectively.
They have 100 points overall with Russia second on 95.
Abdulrashid Sadulaev’s success at 97kg contributed significantly to Russia’s tally along with four other medals.
In the 97kg final, Sadulaev scored an opening period step out before putting his agility and athleticism on display when he nearly jumped over Belarus' Aliaksandr Hushtyn, scoring the match-deciding takedown.
Sadulaev’s 3-1 victory secured him back-to-back European titles and brought his overall continental total to four having also prevailed in 2014 and 2015.
In addition to Sadualev’s 25 points for a first-place finish, Russia grabbed 40 points from two runner-up finishes and 30 points from a pair of third-place finishes.
Turkey, who matched Azerbaijan’s pair of gold medals, sit in third place with 87 points.
Their two champions were Süleyman Atli and Mustafa Kaya.
Atli picked up where he left off after the 2018 World Championships, adding a European title to his resume with an impressive win against Russia’s Muslim Sadulaev.
The turning point in the 57kg gold-medal bout came when Alti, the 2018 world bronze medallist, scored a takedown and transitioned into a pair of gut wrenches.
He consequently led 6-1 and never looked back, adding another takedown to his total and taking the match 8-3.
With his win, Atli moves ahead of reigning world champion Zaur Uguev of Russia into top spot in the 57kg world rankings;
Turkey’s second champion of the day was Kaya, who emerged as the victor at 70kg when he outscored Mustafayev 6-0 in the second period after giving up a two-point takedown in the opening period.
Turkey also collected 20 points from Kilicsallayan's second-place finish at 65kg and 15 points from Muhammet Kotanoglu's third-place finish at 79kg.
Ukraine are fourth in the team standings with 43 points, while Belarus are fifth with 38.
Action in Bucharest is due to continue tomorrow with women's wrestling and the final five sets of freestyle medal matches.