West Ham 2 – 1 A Villa

West Ham 2 – 1 A Villa

An emotional Andriy Yarmolenko scored for West Ham in his first game since war broke out in his native Ukraine as the Hammers secured a 2-1 win against Aston Villa at the London Stadium.

There could not have been a more popular player to break the deadlock as far as the home fans were concerned, and Yarmolenko pointed to the skies before wiping away tears as he was mobbed by his team-mates following his 70th-minute strike.

The 32-year-old’s goal also served as a welcome morale booster for West Ham, with the afternoon threatening to be a damaging one following second-half injuries to Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell.

But the three points were secured thanks to Pablo Fornals, who turned home Said Benrahma’s cut back after a brilliant run through the Villa midfield by Declan Rice (82).

Villa had been toothless up until that point but finally raised their game after Fornals’ strike, and Jacob Ramsey ensured it was a nervy final few minutes for the Hammers after he expertly sent a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area after good work by substitutes Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia.

Team news

  • West Ham made two changes, bringing in Lukasz Fabianski and Said Benrahma for Alphonse Areola and Nikola Vlasic
  • Steven Gerrard kept faith with the same Aston Villa side that won 3-0 at Leeds in midweek

But it was too little too late for Steven Gerrard’s side, who missed the chance to tighten their grip on ninth place, while West Ham closed the gap on fourth-placed Manchester United to just two points.

The first half passed by without either side truly threatening to score, and was largely notable for the number of stoppages caused by injuries, with Lucas Digne having to be replaced early on.

The fitness issues continued in the second period thanks to Antonio and Cresswell, who may now present David Moyes with a headache ahead of his side’s Europa League second leg at home to Sevilla on Thursday.

West Ham’s mood nearly darkened further following those injuries when Danny Ings thought he had opened the scoring for Villa, but his shot from a low corner produced a sensational save from Lukasz Fabianski, who tipped the ball onto the post before collecting the rebound.

Fabianski’s opposite number Emiliano Martinez then produced an equally impressive effort to deny Kurt Zouma, with Craig Dawson then somehow turning the rebound over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

But Yarmolenko showed his team-mate how it was done when he controlled Benrahma’s pass before instantly swivelling and guiding an effort into the bottom corner in what was a welcome return for the winger following more than a month on the sidelines.

What’s next?

West Ham will return to Europa League action on Thursday, March 17 at 8pm as they face Sevilla in the second leg of their last-16 tie, where they will be looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit.

The Hammers then travel to play top-four rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, March 20 at 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports.

Aston Villa’s next Premier League game will see welcome Arsenal on Saturday, March 19 at 12.30pm.

Sunday 20th March 4:00pm

Kick off 4:30pm

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