Azerbaijan celebrates first win as Rzayev does it "for the motherland"

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Baku, June 24, AZERTAC

Ireland's Scott Evans suffered an early scare when he lost the first set of his badminton singles match against Yuhan Tan of Belgium before coming back for a win that put him top of Group A.

The tournament top seed revealed he felt under pressure going into the match.

"I had a lot of nerves at first," said world no.23 Evans at Baku Sports Hall on Tuesday. "This event is really important for me and really important for Irish badminton so there's some extra pressure there."

Fans had earlier celebrated a first European Games badminton win for Azerbaijan when Kanan Rzayev beat Samuel Cali of Malta 21-16, 21-12.

"My rival was an athlete with a ranking close to mine, so I did my best to gain a victory in my motherland," said the home favourite.

Going into the second day, the group standings are largely running to form in the men's singles, with the exception of Group D, in which Michal Rogalski of Poland is top with two wins after beating sixth seeded Austrian Luka Wraber.

Yuhan Tan's sister Lianne handed a first defeat to Kati Tolmoff of Estonia to sit top of Group F in the women's singles. Chloe Magee of Ireland, who lost to Tolmoff on Monday, is third going into the final group round.

Magee's brothers Josh and Sam got their first win in the men's doubles by beating another set of siblings, Ricardo and Angelo Silva of Portugal. Sam and Chloe top Group A in the mixed doubles having recorded a second win on Tuesday. The pair are favourites for gold.

In the women's doubles, top-seeded sisters Stefani and Gabriela Stoeva of Bulgaria continued their progress with an easy win over Steffi Annys and Flore Vandehoucke of Belgium.

The final day of group matches begins at 09:00 on Wednesday.

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