Yarmolenko nets emotional goal as West Ham beats Villa 2-1

March 13, 2022 GMT
West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko reacts after scoring their side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at the London Stadium, London, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (John Walton/PA via AP)
West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko reacts after scoring their side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at the London Stadium, London, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (John Walton/PA via AP)
West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko reacts after scoring their side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at the London Stadium, London, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (John Walton/PA via AP)
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West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko reacts after scoring their side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at the London Stadium, London, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (John Walton/PA via AP)
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West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko reacts after scoring their side's first goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at the London Stadium, London, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (John Walton/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Ukrainian forward Andriy Yarmolenko scored the opening goal to help West Ham beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League and keep up its push for a top-four finish.

Yarmolenko was back in the Hammers squad for the first time since being granted compassionate leave due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was in tears after celebrating his 70th-minute goal, dropping to his knees with both arms pointing up to the sky as he was mobbed by his teammates.

“It was so emotional for me because of the situation in my country,” Yarmolenko 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. ... I’m not ready 100% because the last few weeks I trained maybe three or four times. I had to rest for four days because it was impossible to train; I was just thinking about my family and my people.”

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Yarmolenko had received a standing ovation from both sets of fans as he came on as a 53rd-minute substitute for Michail Antonio.

Pablo Fornals doubled the lead in the 82nd before Jacob Ramsey pulled one back for Villa in injury time.

The win ended a three-game losing streak in all competitions for West Ham and kept David Moyes’ team just two points behind Manchester United in the fight for European places. Aston Villa is in ninth place.

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