Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko returned to the West Ham squad for the first time since Russia invaded his homeland and scored an emotional and memorable goal as the Irons picked up a huge three points in pursuit of a European place, beating Aston Villa 1-0 on Sunday.
Yarmolenko entered the match in the 52nd minute and feasted on one of Said Benraham’s two assists, as Pablo Fornals later scored a goal the Irons would need to take all three points.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
That’s because Jacob Ramsey scored a 90th-minute consolation goal to set up a grandstand six minutes of stoppage time at London’s Olympic Stadium.
West Ham moves back into fifth place with 48 points, each win crucial as the Irons have played more matches than most of their top four and even top seven rivals. Man United has 50 points in fourth place.
Villa stalls in ninth place with 36 points, 10 back of seventh-place Wolves with a match-in-hand.
West Ham vs Aston Villa final score, stats
West Ham 2, Aston Villa 1
Goals scored: Yarmolenko (70′), Fornals (82′), Ramsey (90′)
Shots: West Ham 11, Aston Villa 13
Shots on target: West Ham 4, Aston Villa 7
Possession: West Ham 48, Aston Villa 52
Three things we learned from West Ham vs Aston Villa
1. Yarmolenko! There will not be a more memorable moment this weekend that Andriy Yarmolenko’s goal. The Ukrainian hero was a substitute in returning to West Ham’s 18 for the first time since he was given compassionate leave following Russia’s invasion of his native Ukraine. Well, the Ukrainian legend went and delivered a goal and his reaction was more memorable than the fine settle and finish, as Yarmolenko pointed both hands to the sky and was surrounded by fans, Ukrainian flags visible in the stands as the Hammers surrounded their teammate, who burst into tears and had understandable trouble getting it together as he walked back to the touch line.
2. Fabulous Fabianski: West Ham’s Polish goalkeeper had plenty to do but no moment should be more in focus than his incredible 57th save. The Irons have seen this before, and this time Fabianski’s was parallel with the goal line as he slapped Danny Ings’ shot off the near post.
3. Martinez not to be outdone: Aston Villa’s star keeper has had a high-profile mistake or two this season but his reaction save on Michail Antonio’s 61st minute header kinda waved across the pitch to Fabianski in a bit of keeper heroics-matching. This isn’t a surprise given West Ham’s set-piece/corner kick prowess but perhaps that makes the save even better.
Man of the Match: Andriy Yarmolenko — He entered in the 52nd minute and looked sharp despite his time off, registering a key pass and connecting on 5-of-5 passes before snatching the opener through traffic. The feel-good story of the weekend
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Benrahma’s second assist sets up decisive Fornals goal
Villa gets one back, but not two
Aston Villa aren't out of it yet!
Jacob Ramsey places the first time shot it into the back of the net. We're into stoppage time, can Villa level the match or will West Ham hold on?
📺: @USA_Network & @Telemundo #MyPLMorning | #WHUAVL pic.twitter.com/QnuKp205Z5
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 13, 2022