February 28, 2024


Vitalii Mykolenko took his excellent Premier League form onto the international stage with the Everton defender named Ukraine’s Man of the Match following that controversial European Championship qualifier with Italy. 

Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League

After being denied the most stonewall of penalties when Mykhaylo Mudryk was sent flying by Italy’s Bryan Cristante late on, Ukraine will have to settle for a place in the play-offs.

At least, with Vitalii Mykolenko around, national team boss Serhiy Rebrov will have a defender in the form of his life marshalling his rearguard in March’s make-or-break decider, the Everton man maintaining his terrific recent form as Ukraine kept Luciano Spalletti’s Azzurri at arms’ length.

Everton’s Vitalii Mykolenko in career-best form

Mykolenko claimed the Man of the Match award after receiving 51 per cent of the votes from the Ukraine supporters. For context, goalkeeper Anatoly Trubin came in second with just 19 per cent.

And you can now add Aston Villa’s Nicolo Zaniolo to the ever-growing list of talented forwards who have been kept under lock and key by Everton’s ever-improving number 19, Mykolenko also getting the best of Mo Salah and Jarrod Bowen while discovering a knack for game-changing contributions at the other end of the pitch too.

Ukraine face Euro 2024 play-off

Mykolenko, labelled a lion’ for another ferocious performance at full-time, said pre-match that he is playing the best football of his career (UA Tribuna). And, on this evidence, it is certainly difficult to disagree.

“He’s been brilliant recently,” Everton team-mate James Tarkowski told the Toffees website after Mykolenko opened the scoring in a 1-1 draw with Brighton at the start of November.

“He’s come up against some good players, and he’s been one of our best players to be fair to him. So he deserves a goal.

“It was nice for him.”

Everton paid around £17 million to bring Mykolenko to Goodison Park from Dinamo Kiev in 2022, the likeable left-back something of a rare positive to emerge from the miserable Rafa Benitez era.

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