Inspirational Andriy Yarmolenko strikes again as Ukraine win at UEFA Euro 2020

Andriy Yarmolenko celebrates

West Ham United forward Andriy Yarmolenko made it two goals in two games for Ukraine at the 2020 UEFA European Championships on Thursday afternoon, helping his home nation see off North Macedonia 2-1 in Bucharest.

Having netted a long-range thunderbolt against the Netherlands in his team’s 3-2 opening defeat on Sunday, Yarmolenko and Ukraine were involved in another open and entertaining contest against the group minnows.

After inspiring his team to come from two goals behind at the weekend, West Ham and Ukraine’s No7 was once again a creative tour de force in the fixture, opening the scoring on the half-an-hour mark before playing in Roman Yaremchuk for his side’s second mere moments later.

Wearing the captain’s armband again in his 96th cap, Yarmolenko’s goal meant that the winger had scored in three consecutive games for his country for the first time since October 2016.

The strike also draws the 31-year-old level with six other players in the race for the Euro 2020 golden boot and, with an updated tally of 42, he stands one goal closer to manager Andriy Shevchenko (48) in Ukraine’s all-time scoring stakes.

Indeed, Yarmolenko has now been involved in four of Ukraine’s six goals over their three European Championship finals, scoring two and assisting two.

Once again justifying their status as dark horses in the competition, Ukraine started the match menacingly, with Yarmolenko’s off-target strike causing Darko Velkoski and North Macedonia enough concern to require a clearance.

After enjoying 65 per cent of the possession inside the opening half-an-hour, Yarmolenko then managed to spring North Macedonia’s offside trap, only to see his effort denied by goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

But the forward was not deterred and, moments later, he stretched to reach Oleksandr Karavaev’s flick-on at the far post, guiding the ball back across goal and into the net via his right foot.

Moments later, Yarmolenko produced a deft first-time through-ball for Yaremchuk, who raced clear to double his side’s advantage with a precise finish.

Having both also netted against the Netherlands, the goal saw Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk become the first-ever duo to score in both of their side's opening two matches at a single European Championship tournament.

To their credit, North Macedonia responded after the break and pulled a goal back after 57 minutes through Leeds United winger Ezgjan Alioski, before Yarmolenko was withdrawn on 70 minutes as Ukraine looked to fortify their position for the remainder of the game.

With a goal, an assist, five shots (two on target), a key pass, and a successful cross and dribble to his name, however, the West Ham forward can look back on another excellent display with pride.

After successfully seeing out the 2-1 win, Ukraine now possess three points in Group C level on points with the Netherlands’ and Austria, who clash later on Wednesday.

For Club and Country