Everton support both Vitaliy Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko

Everton created an environment to support Ukraine internationals Vitaliy Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko, with fans inside Goodison Park sending good will to their homeland in ’emotional’ scenes praised by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

  • Manchester City defeated Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday
  • Fans showed solidarity towards Vitaliy Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko 
  • The pair embraced during the warm-up and were both emotional before kick-off

The Hollies were still playing over the ground’s public address system for a few seconds after the football started, as Aymeric Laporte sized up the first square ball of the night, and that felt entirely fitting at Goodison Park.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother had filled the air as a teary Oleksandr Zinchenko sat on Manchester City’s bench, overwhelmed by the reception inside this ground. 

The response to recent events in his homeland, Ukraine, was exceptionally moving and had been for some time before Zinchenko was offered an embrace by fellow substitute Kyle Walker.

Everton created an environment to support both Vitaliy Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko

A banner was held by a fan in the Gwladys Street End which read ‘We stand with Ukraine’

Everton created an environment to support both the City defender and their own Ukraine international, Vitaliy Mykolenko, and fans from Merseyside and Manchester played their part. Unity from the moment players went to warm-up until Paul Tierney blew his first whistle.

Countless flags were brought, dangled and draped from all sides. One, in the second tier of the Gwladys Street End, simply read: ‘We stand with Ukraine’.

Everton’s players each wore the yellow and blue flag as they lined up; City’s squad wore training tops which bore the Ukrainian national flag with the message: ‘No war’.

Collectively, it all had an emotive impact on the half an hour or so from five o’clock. Mykolenko and Zinchenko, who hugged during the warm-ups and held a lengthy conversation on the touchline during proceedings, were made to experience empowerment inside a football stadium.

City full-back Zinchenko wore a t-shirt which said ‘no war’ in support of his country Ukraine

Zinchenko and Mykolenko embrace before the kick-off as both discuss the tragic situation

‘Thank you so much to all the people at Goodison Park,’ Pep Guardiola said. ‘It was so emotional. It is not a nice moment for Zinchenko and the Ukrainian people right now. The people from Goodison Park were amazing.’

That did, though, have to sit alongside uncomfortable truths, regarding both Everton’s ties with Alisher Usmanov, coupled with £30million naming rights sponsor USM, and that the United Arab Emirates on Saturday abstained on a vote on a draft UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

City’s majority shareholder Sheikh Mansour is UAE’s deputy PM, while the emirate later called for de-escalation of violence, citing the need for diplomacy and dialogue.

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