West Ham United forward Andriy Yarmolenko offered an inconsistent display during Ukraine’s 1-0 win over Spain in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday night.
Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine hosted Luis Enrique’s Spain at the NSK Olimpiskyi stadium looking to bounce-back from defeat at home to Germany on Saturday, with a sole goal from Viktor Tsygankov enough to settle the tie.
The result moved Ukraine to within a point of Group 4 leaders Spain and level on six points with Germany, who were held to a 3-3 draw by Switzerland who remain winless after four matches.
Yarmolenko assisted Tsygankov’s deadlock-breaking effort in the 76th-minute, but otherwise hindered Ukraine’s efforts as he earned his 91st international cap whilst wearing the captain’s armband for the third game in succession.
Yarmolenko has been a constant on the international stage for his native Ukraine for the past year, having recovered from an Achilles tendon rupture to participate in their European Championship qualifying campaign and now lead the country in hopes of reaching the Finals of the 2020/21 edition of the Nations League.
Irons boss David Moyes has not been as forthcoming with minutes in east London, with the Scottish coach only starting the £6.75million-rated attacker in West Ham’s Carabao Cup ties and as a late substitute in their first two Premier League fixtures.
Former Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini was a much larger advocate of Yarmolenko’s potential, having signed the 30-year-old from Borussia Dortmund for £17.5m.
“He is able to be one of the best midfielders in the league,” Pellegrini said of Yarmolenko in 2019, via quotes by The Telegraph. “His quality and the way he is playing is showing that he is a top player.”
Irons teammate Ryan Fredericks also lauded Yarmolenko a year ago for being an unusual breed, pairing power with technical skill.
“He is a little bit different,” Fredericks noted. “Unpredictable.”
It would be fair to say that Yarmolenko’s performance against Spain lived up to the unpredictable tag as he produced an inconsistent display. Whilst the £115,000-per-week attacker – notably West Ham’s top-earner – did provide an assist, he was also consistently an easy read for his marker.
Spain restricted Yarmolenko to just two key balls from 30 accurate passes as they penned the attacker back in Ukraine’s territory for much of the clash, while forcing him to lose possession nine times, commit three fouls, lose seven of 10 duels, be caught offside once and only make one successful dribble, per SofaScore.
Yarmolenko was further dribbled past twice, made no successful tackles and registered no efforts on goal, but was able to record four clearances and one interception.
His performance pretty much mirrored his club form, an inconsistent display which is likely to make it an extremely easy call for Moyes to again bench Yarmolenko when West Ham return to the Premier League this weekend away to Tottenham Hotspur, looking to claim only their second win over their London rivals in what will be seven meetings.