Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko breaks down in tears after scoring for West Ham

Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko breaks down in tears after scoring for West Ham
Ukraine star Yarmolenko given time off by West Ham

There were emotional scenes in the Premier League on Sunday as West Ham's Ukrainian winger Andriy Yarmolenko scored the opening goal in his club's 2-1 win over Aston Villa at the London Stadium.

The 32-year-old came off the bench to a huge reception from the fans on the 52-minute mark and just shy of 20 minutes later he scored the first goal of the game converting a smart volley into the far corner past Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez.

Yarmolenko promptly broke down and was clearly in tears as his teammates celebrated with him, while he fell to his knees, overcome with the emotion of the occasion.

West Ham's stadium announcer fitting yelled after the goal was scored: "A goal for West Ham and a goal for Ukraine."

Photos and videos of the moment soon flooded social media as many showed their compassion for Yarmolenko and the Ukrainian people as it continues to fight off the onslaught of Russian forces which invaded the country just over two weeks ago.

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Yarmolenko later fell to the ground again after the final whistle with both West Ham and Villa players applauding him.

This was Yarmolenko's first goal in the Premier League in two years and it was his first appearance for West Ham since the war in his home country began. He had been on compassionate leave until now.

Speaking afterwards to Sky Sports, Yarmolenko said: "It was so emotional for me because of the situation in my country. 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 teammates, 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."

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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