Manchester City outcast, Yaya Toure made a surprise start away to Crystal Palace on Saturday and found himself in the thick of things as he fired his side to victory.
The towering midfielder who was making his first Premier League appearance, his second in all competitions this season, justified his selection by firing his misfiring side to just one point off league leaders Chelsea.
City went ahead in the 39th minute after Toure exchanged passes with Nolito in the penalty area before firing a shot which deflected off Palace defender James Tomkins into the back of the net.
Crystal Palace looked nervous as City pushed for a second and were unlucky not to score after they had the ball cleared off the line.
Manager Alan Pardew responded by bringing on Conor Wickham at the break which gave Palace greater intensity. The substituiton paid off in the 66th minute after Wickham then brought the two sides level.
City controlled the game after conceding but failed to break the Crystal Palace defense which looked to hold out for a much desired point.
Palace, however, seemed to be caught off-guard in the 83rd minute by a De Bruyne low cross corner from the right wing. David Silva dummied the cross leaving Yaya Toure with an open net to secure all three points.
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Speaking to reporters after the match, Guardiola said he was delighted with Toure’s performance. He said:
“I’m so happy for Yaya Toure because he’s a really nice guy. We now have one more man that can help us achieve our targets this season. The last two months he was amazing in the training sessions. His behaviour was absolutely perfect.
“I would say his performance is not down to my decision, but it’s about his quality. Yaya’s physical condition is better than ever. He’s now a real part of the team again and can help us achieve our targets.”
The 33-year-old fell out of favor with Guardiola in the beginning of the season because he was overweight and lacked work rate off the ball.
His agent went on to publicly criticize the Spanish manager saying he was out to humiliate Toure to which Guardiola demanded an apology before reinstating him in the first team.
Yaya Toure issued an apology a few weeks later and would now be looking to maintain a place in the first eleven to drive City to a third Premier league title. Toure said:
“I was delighted to play, and I am very happy to be playing football. My team-mates are very important to me. They have always been brilliant with me, always supportive. I always want to be there to help them.”