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Ukraine-Russia crisis

West Ham star Yarmolenko in tears after first goal since Ukraine invaded by Russia

16:43 WAT 13/03/2022
Andriy Yarmolenko West Ham 2021-22
The Hammers forward found the target in a meeting with Aston Villa, with emotions spilled out on the field at the London Stadium

Andriy Yarmolenko took in an emotional outing for West Ham against Aston Villa on Sunday, with the Ukrainian reduced to tears after scoring in a first outing since his homeland was invaded by Russia.

The experienced frontman was granted compassionate leave by the Hammers after political tension in Eastern Europe boiled over into military conflict.

He has been eased back into the fold since returning to training at the London Stadium, but was introduced off the bench by David Moyes in a meeting with Villa and marked that appearance with the opening goal of the game.

Why did Yarmolenko break down in tears?

The 32-year-old is among those to have been left concerned for friends and family that have become caught up in the events that have rocked Ukraine.

He has, however, made an impressive return to competitive action with the Hammers.

In his first appearance since February 5, Yarmolenko was thrown on against Villa to make a telling contribution in the final third.

He did just that when collecting a clipped pass from Said Benrahma, spinning inside the penalty area and poking into the bottom corner with his cultured left foot.

Wild celebrations were sparked as the net bulged, with Yarmolenko embraced by many of his team-mates.

What was said?

After the match, the Ukraine star reflected on am "emotional" moment as he was able to find a small bit of joy during a difficult time.

"It was so emotional for me because of the situation in my country," he told Sky Sports. "It is so difficult for me right now in this moment thinking about football because every day, the Russian army is killing Ukrainian people.

"It was so emotional. To be honest, I don’t know what to say. I just want to say thank you to my team-mates, who support me all the time, every day. To West Ham fans, they also support me and Ukrainian people and also to all British people, because we feel you support us. Thank you, really.

"I felt the support from the fans and I tried to give everything on the pitch because I know how important the game was for us today. I'm not ready for 100% because the last two weeks I train maybe three or four times.

"Since 26 February, I had to rest for four days because it was impossible to train, I was just thinking about my family and my people. I just tried to give everything on the pitch."

On the goal itself, he continued: "Said gave me the ball. In the box, you don’t have a lot of time and you need to do everything really quick and I was quick enough.

"For me, it is really important to feel the support from the manager and my team-mates and the fans. When I feel it, I give everything for the fans and the club."

The bigger picture

With Yarmolenko putting West Ham on their way, Pablo Fornals went on to add a second for Moyes’ men as they claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win on home soil.

Three points help to keep the Hammers in the hunt for a top-four finish this season, with there just two separating them from Manchester United in the race for Champions League qualification.

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