Olympic silver medallist Haji Aliyev reached the men's 65kg freestyle final in Budapest ©Getty Images

Azerbaijan enjoyed a successful opening day of the European Wrestling Championships after four of their athletes advanced to finals on the opening day of competition in Budapest.

The World Championships is taking place without the presence of Russia, after the nation and Belarus were both banned from competition by United World Wrestling over the two countries’ involvement in the war in Ukraine.

Russia have been the dominant nation in recent years, winning 22 medals across all three disciplines at last year’s European Championships.

Azerbaijan looks best-placed to take advantage of Russia’s absence, with their men’s freestyle wrestlers enjoying an impressive opening day.

Olympic silver medallist Haji Aliyev booked his place in the men’s 65 kilogram gold medal match, following a 12-2 win over Moldova’s Maxim Sacultan in the semi-final stage at the BOK Sports Hall.

Three-time world champion Aliyev will face the challenge of Hungary’s Iszmail Muszukajev in the gold medal match, after the home favourite overcame Poland’s Krzysztof Bienkowski.

Under-23 world champion Aliabbas Rzazade booked his place in a maiden European Championship final in the 57kg freestyle division.

The Azeri wrestler overcame Georgia’s Beka Bujiashvili 10-0 in the semi-finals.

Vladimir Egorov won by the same margin in the second semi-final against Armenia’s Manvel Khndzrtsyan, triumphing by superiority.

The result saw Egorov become the first wrestler from North Macedonia to reach a European Championship final since 1999.

Azerbaijan’s success continued in the 79kg event, where Ashraf Ashirov beat Georgia’s Vladimeri Gamkrelidze 13-7 in the last four.

Ashirov will now face Greece’s Georgios Kougioumtsidis, after the under-23 European champion earned a 15-10 win over Turkey’s Muhammer Akdeniz.

Magomedkhan Magomedov became Azerbaijan’s fourth wrestler to earn a final spot, as he advanced to the 97kg gold medal bout.

Magomedov emerged as a 6-4 winner in a tight contest with Poland’s Zbigniew Baranowski.

Hungary’s Vladislav Baitsaev won the second semi-final, overcoming Germany’s Erik Thiele 6-1.

The men’s 70kg freestyle final will be contested by Georgia’s Zurabi Iakobashvili and Armenia’s Arman Andreasyan.

Iakobashvili earned a 4-3 win over Azerbaijan’s Under-23 European champion Ziraddin Bayramov in the semi-finals.

The second semi-final saw Andreasyan clinch a 6-2 win over Moldova’s Nicolai Grahmez.

The medal bouts will take place tomorrow, as well as the semi-finals of the five remaining men’s freestyle weight classes.