West Ham winger Andriy Yarmolenko scored the only goal in Ukraine’s 1-0 win over Slovakia.
Yarmolenko has had a difficult start to life at West Ham but a goal for his country is promising.
Can the 28-year-old translate his international form to his club?
With West Ham sitting bottom of the table after four consecutive Premier League losses, he is much needed.
Ukraine hosted Slovakia in a UEFA Nations League clash in Lviv. The two teams are in Group 1 of Division B in this tournament.
In the opening game of the competition, Ukraine beat Czech Republic 2-1 and Yarmolenko played 66 minutes.
Former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine side made it two wins in a row on Sunday.
It took until the 80th minute, when Yarmolenko stepped up to convert a penalty past Newcastle United’s Martin Dubravka.
Dubravka got a hand to it and Yarmolenko sent his left-footed strike to the goalkeeper’s left, but it was too powerful and squeezed its way in.
How did Yarmolenko play?
Yarmolenko is still not fully fit and this showed at times. He has started as a substitute in every league match for the Hammers and his only start was the EFL Cup win over AFC Wimbledon.
After playing 66 minutes against Czech Republic, Yarmolenko was handed a full 90 minutes on Sunday.
The rust is still there but his performance had some encouraging signs.
The former Borussia Dortmund wide man had a pass success rate of over 90% from his 37 passes, including one key pass.
In contrast, Yarmolenko averages just over 12 passes per game for West Ham (with two key passes in four matches), although he has spent less time on the pitch.
Yarmolenko’s passing stats were more impressive than his dribbling numbers. He was dispossessed by the opposition on two occasions.
There is scope for improvement, but his penalty goal will give him some much needed confidence.
It was his 36th international strike and he is only behind Shevchenko on the all-time Ukrainian goal scoring list.
How can this help West Ham?
West Ham need players like Yarmolenko to step up and drag them away from the foot of the league.
The Ukraine international’s goal will hopefully give him the confidence to play more freely at West Ham when given the chance.
And with Michail Antonio failing to live up to expectations, Yarmolenko could win his first start for the Hammers when they travel to Everton next weekend.
West Ham need a hero and Yarmolenko is a candidate to step up, if he can continue to improve.