Andriy Yarmolenko: The Ukrainian star broke down in tears after scoring for West Ham in the Premier League
“I was just thinking about my family and my people,” Yarmolenko told Sky. “I just tried to give my all on the pitch.”
Pablo Fornals then secured the three points with a goal in the final 10 minutes, before Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey fired a consolation goal in stoppage time.
Yarmolenko’s opener was of high quality, controlling a drilled pass with his right foot, before spinning in place and finding the bottom corner with his left.
The 32-year-old, who was greeted with applause from both sets of supporters when he came on as a second-half substitute, thanked West Ham fans for their support over the past few weeks.
A number of Ukrainian flags were visible in the stands during the game, while West Ham souvenirs in Ukrainian colors were sold outside the stadium before the game.
“It was so emotional for me because of the situation in my country,” Yarmolenko told Sky. “It’s so hard for me right now to think about football because every day the Russian army is killing Ukrainians.
“I just want to say thank you to my team-mates, who support me all the time, every day. To the West Ham fans, they support me too, and the Ukrainians, and also to all the Brits because we feel that you support. Thank you, really.
“I felt the support from the fans and tried to give my all on the pitch because I know how important the game was for us today. I’m not 100% ready because the last two weeks, I trained maybe three or four times.”
While Yarmolenko’s goal might be more important than just a result on the pitch, it was the one that put West Ham on the path to a well-deserved victory.
Sunday’s win ended a three-game losing streak and keeps the Hammers in the hunt for a Champions League spot next season.
On Thursday, David Moyes’ side will face arguably their biggest game of the season when they host Sevilla FC in London for the second leg of the Europa League Round of 16.
West Ham will need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit if they are to reach their first European quarter-final since the 1999 Intertoto Cup.