West Ham United forward Andriy Yarmolenko scores stunning goal for Ukraine against the Netherlands at UEFA Euro 2020
Andriy Yarmolenko scored arguably the finest goal of the 2020 UEFA European Championship finals so far in Ukraine’s 3-2 defeat by the Netherlands on Sunday evening.
In a remarkable game, West Ham and Ukraine's No7 - wearing the captain's armband - produced a late moment of brilliance which served as palpable inspiration for his nation at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Having halved his side’s two-goal deficit and inspired them to draw level four minutes later, however, there was to be one last twist when Denzel Dumfries stole in to head home the match-winner for the Netherlands with five minutes remaining.
Nevertheless, Yarmolenko’s sensational goal – a 25-yard arcing, curling, majestic effort – will live long in the memory, with the West Ham forward having become only the second Ukrainian to score at the European Championship finals after his international manager Andriy Shevchenko.
Incredibly, Ukraine had gone 72 consecutive shots without a goal at the European Championships finals - they last scored in their opening game of Euro 2012, which they co-hosted - prior to Yarmolenko finding the back of the net.
Yet the strike – which arrived on his 95th cap – brings Yarmolenko’s tally for Ukraine up to 41, now just seven goals behind all-time top scorer Shevchenko, and is likely to see him nominated for Goal of the Tournament come the competition’s end.
It also capped an all-round impressive offensive performance which saw the West Ham forward contribute a team-high three shots and three crosses, as well as a key pass and a dribble.
A menace throughout with his inside runs from the right-hand side, Yarmolenko was in the thick of the action from the off in Amsterdam.
The forward caused the Netherlands’ defence quickfire problems in the early stages with a searing cross in opening minutes, just before coming close to converting the subsequent corner under pressure from Marten de Roon.
Both goalkeepers were kept busy in the opening half, with Yarmolenko coming close after besting Daley Blind with a moment of skill, only to see his powerful strike saved by Maarten Stekelenburg.
On the stroke of half-time, Yarmolenko was part of a slick move which saw the forward collect a backheel, beat another defender, and have another effort denied by Stekelenburg.
Shortly after half-time, the Netherlands looked to have assumed an unassailable position when two clinical finishes from Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst put them firmly in command.
But with Ukraine seemingly out of the game, up popped Yarmolenko with his searing strike which nestled satisfying into the top corner, giving Stekelenburg little chance, if any, to deny him once more.
And five minutes later, Ukraine were level when Roman Yaremchuk ran onto Ruslan Malinovskiy’s free-kick from deep to find the far corner with an excellent header.
Dumfries would later have the last word, but Yarmolenko and his team’s mentality and performance were of a high calibre, and solidified their reputation as dark horses in the competition overall.
Yarmolenko will hope to go one better when Ukraine face Group C outsiders North Macedonia at the National Arena in Bucharest on Thursday, before taking on Austria at the same venue next Monday 21 June.