Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko gets emotional after scoring on return for West Ham

Credit: PA

Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko scored an emotional goal on his return to football for West Ham after taking compassionate leave.

Yarmolenko, whose family is still in Ukraine, was back in the Hammers squad for the first time since taking time off due to the war in his homeland.

West Ham fans were joined by Aston Villa supporters in giving him a standing ovation as he came on as a 53rd-minute substitute for Michail Antonio.

And standout moment in what was an otherwise forgettable game at West Ham's London Stadium came in the 70th minute, as Yarmolenko ran over to the home fans and shed tears after scoring to put his side into the lead.

An emotional Yarmolenko reacts after the game ended. Credit: PA

Yarmolenko's hometown of Chernihiv in the north of Ukraine has been particularly badly damaged during the war.

The city has suffered air strikes for days and dozens of people have been killed.

The latest horror came on Sunday morning, when at least one person died and one more was injured as a result of the shelling of a nine-storey residential building.

Much of the city's infrastructure and some residential areas have been heavily damaged and residents have been unable to leave the area due to a lack of so-called "green" or humanitarian corridors.

This satellite image shows a closeup view of fires in an industrial area and nearby fields in southern Chernihiv, Ukraine. Credit: Maxar Technologies

An emotional Yarmolenko was lost for words when asked to sum up his afternoon.

He told Sky Sports: “It was so emotional for me because you know the situation in my country. It’s so difficult for me right now at this moment thinking about football because every day in my country, the Russian army kill Ukrainian people.

“To be honest, I don’t know what to say, just it was so emotional. I just want to say thank you to my team-mates, who support me all the time every day. I want to say to West Ham fans… They also support me, support the Ukrainian people.

“I also want to say thank you to all British people because we feel you support us and, really, thank you.”

Teammate Tomas Soucek tweeted after the game that he was "very glad" for his "brother" while Vladimir Coufal said: "No one deserve that more than you bro."

West Ham's Twitter account posted at full time: "We love you, Yarma!"

Yarmolenko's side ran out winners on the day after Pablo Fornals hit West Ham’s second and Jacob Ramsey grabbed Villa’s consolation.

But it came at a cost with injuries to Antonio and Aaron Cresswell, bad news with the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Sevilla just four days away.