It wasn’t the whitewash most were probably expecting.
Russia advanced further in Group A competition at the 2017 Greco-Roman World Cup in Abadan City, Iran, but Team Iran provided a mighty challenge in a dual that started growing increasingly close towards the end.. And unlike the first session, where Russia went to its depth to turn back Kazakhstan, they brought out the stars to try and get a leg up on their Middle Eastern rival.
2012 Olympic gold medalist Mingiyan Semenov (59 kg, world no. 6) got Russia started on the right foot with a 3-1 victory over Saman Abdouli. It was a typically tight affair as both went to the hand-checking early and often, to the point where the official had to intervene and slap away the interlocking fingers. Semenov nursed a 1-0 passivity lead late in the first when Abdouli almost got around on a takedown. Instead he was awarded a passive point of his own to take a criteria edge heading into the second frame.
Semenov received another passivity point in the second but the action remained mutually hectic. Neither wrestler could break the other’s defenses and the tension rose as if being dictated by a maestro, the raucous Iranian crowd an orchestra of vocal and percussive enthusiasm. That’s when controversy struck. Just as time expired, Abdouli got in on Semenov at the edge, holding a head pinch and getting around the back. The crowd erupted. No points were awarded, however, leaving the Iranian side no choice but to challenge. It was to no avail, making Semenov a 3-1 winner in what proved to be a tone-setting bout.
The next fire-breathing moments came when two of Greco’s most prolific competitors at 75 kilograms took the mat. Two-time Olympic and World Champion Roman Vlasov (RUS, world no. 1) and 2011 World Champion Saied Abdvali (IRI, world no. 4) put on a show, even if the scoreboard didn’t light up in recognition. Abdvali, always a windstorm of energy, came out with even more rocket fuel than usual, practically leaving his feet to hurl his body at Vlasov once the whistle blew. Both athletes were fraught with emotion and it showed as they each chopped the other’s face, the taste of blood making an early appearance in this all-too important showdown.
The intensity jumped another level when Abdvali was penalized for a caution and two for coming in with his head. Abdvali was beside himself in frustration but it was only going to get worse. Upon the restart, he did it again and therefore, was penalized again. This time, in protest, smiling through the faint crimson gloss that was the result of his own doing, he took the challenge block and spiked it defiantly in front of the mat chairman. The sequence was looked at by the officials and the result was another point lost for Iran. With a 5-0 lead, all from penalty points, Vlasov was in the driver’s seat.
Abdvali snagged a passivity point to close the gap as the first period drew to a close. Four points to make up against someone like Vlasov is a tall order, made even taller without ordered par terre, but the Iranian gave it his best shot just the same. He kept his head up (more) and violently attempted to sneak in Vlasov’s clutches to find underhooks and drags. A mighty task. Vlasov expertly maintained a high enough work rate to avoid being knocked for a second time and disrupted Abdvali with consistent counter-pressure and his impeccable balance. Despite the lack of offensive points and first period penalties, the action provided for an entertaining bout that will likely be remembered considering how it unfolded.
World champ goes down
Up three matches to one, Russia had the chance to take full control of the dual meet. Reigning 80 kilogram World Champion Ramazan Abacharaev (RUS, world no. 1) and 2015 World bronze medalist Yousef Ghaderian (IRI) just about stole the show with Ghaderian coming out on top. The first passive ding went Abacharaev’s way for a 1-0 Iran lead. Ghaderian wrestled inspired throughout the entire match. He was constantly putting Abacharaev on his heels, backing the Russian up to the boundary and nearly coming away with step-out points. He’d do even better with time running out. Right as the first period ended, Ghaderian hustled Abacharaev to the line once more and used a slide-by to get around back for two points and a 3-0 cushion.
There was no doubt about it — Russia, the heavy favorite, was starting to wilt. Just a little. Ghaderian made sure of it by holding off Abacharaev the rest of the way to put Iran back into the thick of things, down three bouts to two. Breathing room came for Russia shortly thereafter. 2016 Olympic gold medalist Davit Chakvetadze (RUS, world no. 1), making his first appearance of the day, nursed a one-point lead in the 85 kilogram bout versus Hossein Nouri (IRI) when he decided to end it in style. Chakvetadze lifted Nouri for four with an arching bodylock and netted a turn to go up 7-0. Upon the reset, Chakvetadze found himself another bodylock he powered through for four more and a blistering 11-0 technical superiority victory.
Seyedmostafa Salehizadeh (98 kg, IRI) put a halt on any premature celebration. In the penultimate match, Salehizadeh met up with Russian brute Maxim Safaryan (world no. 13). The two collided continuously in the trenches while jostling for position. A strength of Safaryan’s is to grind opponents to with heavy inside work that opens them up for throws. The problem for the Russian wrestler in this battle was that Salehizadeh was just as eager for the contact. It was he who the busier one, hustling Safaryan off his spot and coming away with the first passive point of the contest. He’d notch another before the first period was through.
The 2-0 advantage did little to bring out any threatening attempts by Safaryan in the final stanza. Salehizadeh stayed on the throttle the entire time and even on a couple of occasions lowered in for serious shots to the body. Safaryan did his best to remain upright, but the Iranian delivered a pace that was simply too much for him to deal with. No other points were accumulated in the second period, giving Iran its third win of the afternoon.
It wasn’t pretty, but Sergey Semenov (RUS, world no. 3) was calm and effective in the last bout of the meet against Benham Aryatapeh (IRI). Once again, this was not an offensive-scoring bonanza. Aryatapeh didn’t make any critical errors that could leave himself exposed to the more dynamic elements of Semenov’s game, but he also failed to put the Russian in any serious danger. The Iranian grabbed the lead on a passivity call in the first period. But Semenov stayed in the pocket prodding for two-on-ones and really, any kind of handle he could use to upset Aryatapeh’s movement. The strategy worked. Before long, Semenov had his own passivity point. He was the beneficiary of another one in the second period, taking a a 2-1 margin he would not relinquish.
Russia next faces Germany Friday morning before the Greco-Roman World Cup finals later in the afternoon.
Azerbaijan downs Belarus to stay on top of Group B
Azerbaijan’s first dual of Day 1 saw some dicey moments versus Turkey. They got a bit of a reprieve with Belarus although, there was one upset worth noting.
Belarus actually drew first blood at 59 kilograms with Maksim Kazharski squeezing past Kamran Mammadov 3-1. But that was it for quite a while, as Azerbaijan proceeded to completely dominate the rest of the way to the tune of five straight wins. Here are the highlights:
- 2010 World Champion Hasan Aliyev (71 kg, AZE, world no. 3) was up 2-0 over Pavel Liakh (BLR) in the second period when he lowered in around the body and escorted the Belarusian straight to his back for a four-pointer. Belarus challenged and lost, giving Aliyev a commanding 7-0 lead. A final takedown with :27 left wrapped it up, a 9-0 tech for Aliyev.
- Yasor Kasiankou (75 kg, BLR) dumped Elvin Mursaliyev (AZE, world no. 7) with a headlock at the edge for a 2-1 advantage, but then the wheels fell off. Mursaliyev went on to punish Kasiankou the rest of the way with hearty doses of clubs, drags, and underhooks to accumulate passivity points. A takedown and step-out were added to the carnage in the latter stages of the second period to allow Mursaliyev to emerge victorious via a 10-2 technical fall that saw no throws but instead, a lot of brutal inside business by Mursaliyev, who is one of the most physical wrestlers at this event.
- Belarus did net one nice surprise — Yahor Yaskavets (98 kg) overcame a 4-1 deficit in the second period to defeat Orkhan Nuriyev 8-7 in a fun bout. Yaskavets was banged for passivity just as he scored a takedown at the line to close the gap to 5-3. After the restart Nuriyev held sky-high double underhooks as he walked Yaskavets backwards. In one fell swoop, Yaskavets latched on double overhooks and with cobra-like quickness, punched it over for four huge points and a 7-5 lead. With a minute left, Nuriyev hit a takedown to knot the score, though Yaskavets held criteria by virtue of the four-point throw. A step-out with :32 remaining made it 8-7 for Yaskavets, who with the win, provided Belarus with one its very few bright spots of the dual.
- 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sabah Shariati (AZE, world no. 4) forfeited the 130 kg match to Heorhi Chuhashvili.
The 2017 Greco-Roman World Cup’s second and final day begins at 9:00am local time (1:30am EST) and can be viewed live on Trackwrestling.com.
Preliminary duals remaining
2017 Greco-Roman World Cup Day 1 Session II
RUSSIA — 5 IRAN — 3
59 kg: Mingiyan Semenov (RUS) def. Saman Abdouli (IRI) 2-1
66 kg: Artem Surkov (RUS) def. Ali Arsalan (IRI) 7-4
71 kg: Mohammadali Gerai (IRI) def. Abuyazidov Mantsigov 4-0
75 kg: Roman Vlasov (RUS) def. Saeid Abdvali 5-1
80 kg: Yousef Ghaderian (IRI) def. Ramazan Abacharaev (RUS) 3-0
85 kg: Davit Chakvetadze (RUS) def. Hossein Nouri (IRI) 11-0, TF
98 kg: Seyedmostafa Salehizadeh (IRI) def. Maksim Safaryan (RUS) 2-0
130 kg: Sergey Semenov (RUS) def. Benham Aryatapeh (IRI) 2-1
GERMANY — 6 KAZAKHSTAN — 2
59 kg: Christoph Kraemer (GER) def. Zhanserik Sarsenbiyev 4-3
66 kg: Daniyar Kalenov (KAZ) def. Erik Weiss (GER) 5-0
71 kg: Demeu Zhadrayev (KAZ) def. Maxmillian Schwabe (GER) 1-0
75 kg: Florian Neumaier (GER) def. Tamerlan Shadukayev (KAZ) 3-1
80 kg: Pascal Eisele (GER) def. Daulet Zhaxylykov (KAZ) 5-1
85 kg: Ramsin Azizsir (GER) def. Azamat Kustubayev (KAZ) 2-1
98 kg: Oliver Hassler (GER) def. Alimkhan Syzdykov (KAZ) 4-2
130 kg: Eduard Popp (GER) def. Damir Kuzembayev (KAZ) 6-3
AZERBAIJAN — 5 BELARUS — 3
59 kg: Maksim Kazharski (BLR) def. Kamran Mammadov (AZE) 3-1
66 kg: Nofal Babayev (AZE) def. Yaraslau Kardash (BLR) 8-0, TF
71 kg: Hasan Aliyev (AZE) def. Pavel Liakh (BLR) 9-0, TF
75 kg: Elvin Mursaliyev (AZE) def. Yahor Kasiankou (BLR) 10-2, TF
80 kg: Rafik Huseynov (AZE) def. Radzik Kuliyeu (BLR) 2-0
85 kg: Islam Abbasov (AZE) def. Mikalai Stadub (BLR) 3-0
98 kg: Yahor Yaskavets (BLR) def. Orkhan Nuriyev (AZE) 8-7
130 kg: Heorhi Chuhashvili won via forfeit
TURKEY — 5 UKRAINE — 3
59 kg: Hammet Rustem (TUR) def. Zhora Abovian (UKR) 9-0, TF
66 kg: Parviz Nasibov (UKR) def. Atakan Yuksel (TUR) 2-1
71 kg: Ilker Sonmez (TUR) def. Ruslan Israfilov (UKR) 2-1
75 kg: Emrah Kus (TUR) def. Mykola Daragan (UKR) 5-1
80 kg: Dmytro Pyshkov (UKR) def. Aslan Atem (TUR) 4-1
85 kg: Metehan Basar (TUR) def. Iurii Shkriuba (UKR) 4-1
98 kg: Suleyman Demirci (TUR) def. Volodymyr Vasilyev (UKR) 8-0, TF
130 kg: Oleksandr Chernetskyy (UKR) def. Ali Arslan (TUR) 8-0, TF