Firdovsi Farzaliyev of Azerbaijan is congratulated by President Aliyev after winning the first host nation gold of the Games ©Getty Images

Azerbaijan, France and Turkey each won two gold medals here on a night which showcased all karate had to offer in its bid for Olympic inclusion, and provided some home success to get the inaugural European Games off to a strong sporting start.

In a Games with a primary ambition of conveying a new image of the host nation around the world, ensuring opening day medals success was always vital and, with four home fighters making the semi-finals, anticipation was building around the sellout crowd as the session began.

And in the third fight of the night, under 60 kilograms star Firdovsi Farzaliyev secured his place in history, taking his opportunities with clinical precision en route to a 4-0 triumph over Italy's Luca Maresca.

He then received gold from Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, earning a hug of congratulation as chants of Az-Er-Bai-Zjan" reverberated around the arena.

Three weight categories later there was more success as under 75kg fighter Rafael Aghayev produced a yuko single point score with just 10 seconds left to take a stunning victory over another Italian, Luigi Busa, to put the host nation second on the medals table.

Rafael Aghayev won the second gold of the night for Azerbaijan ©Getty Images
Rafael Aghayev won the second gold of the night for Azerbaijan ©Getty Images

But Turkey and France were equally as dominant to ensure the six gold medals were shared between just three nations.

Serap Ozcelik won the first gold medal of the night in the women's 50kg kumite division after beating Bettina Plank of Austria.

A brilliant ippon from Burak Uygur of Turkey, meanwhile, proved enough to snatch gold from France's Steven Da Costa in the men's under 67kg category.

But, perhaps the star fighter of the night was Emily Thouy of France who fought to a hardly contested 2-1 victory over Croatian opponent, Jelena Kovacevic in the women's under 55kg division.

Lucie Ignace defeated Turkey's Merve Coban in the under 61kg final.

As well as an opportunity for Azerbaijan, the night was also a great advert for karate just days after the sport confirmed its application for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Along with Aliyev, IOC President Thomas Bach was among those present today, along with the likes of vice-president Sir Craig Reedie, Sports Director Kit McConnell, Prince Albert of Monaco and Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees who presented the first two sets of medals. 

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