YAYA TOURE BOUNCES BACK WITH STYLE AS CITY WIN 2-1 AT CRYSTAL PALACE
Multiple african footballer of the year Yaya Toure is back! And back with a bang. The most resounding of bangs.
For so long, sorry was the hardest word for Toure. But on Saturday, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was glad it came.
Toure’s apology at the start of November, for those prolific snipes from his outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk towards Guardiola, seems to have smoothed over the friction.
As a result, the midfielder was handed his first domestic appearance of the season at Selhurst Park, Guardiola lifting his vow not to select the Ivorian until he received an apology.
And, after his shock return to the starting XI, Toure scored a brace to put City level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool.
But while one surprise selection worked a treat for Guardiola, the other didn’t go according to plan.
Starting only his second Premier League game of the season in place of the rested John Stones, Vincent Kompany was once again forced off with an injury.
This time the Belgian complained of blurred vision after a sickening collision with his own goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo. It was wretched luck for the City skipper following a injury-hit start to the season. No wonder he was shaking his head in despair as he trudged off the pitch.
Similarly, Palace boss Alan Pardew is wondering when his luck will change. It’s now five consecutive defeats for his side.
If the club’s American owners weren’t already concerned, then they might be after this as Palace slipped to within one point of the relegation zone.
However, the hosts will count themselves as unlucky not to finish with a point after an encounter that never really caught fire.
City dominated possession but lacked conviction in the final third, though Raheem Sterling caught the eye — one bamboozling run past Martin Kelly in the first half a particular highlight. But Palace more than held their own, winger Wilfried Zaha giving Aleksandar Kolarov more than one uncomfortable moment.
The afternoon, though, belonged to one man.
Toure’s first moment to savour arrived in the 39th minute as Palace failed to recover from James McArthur giving possession away on the edge of his box.
Receiving the ball just inside the area, Toure exchanged passes with Nolitio before firing an unstoppable shot past Wayne Hennessy to give City the lead.
Replays showed the strike took a deflection off Scott Dann, but Toure won’t have cared a jot.
It would be over-egging the pudding to say this represented redemption for the medal-laden 33-year-old. Nevertheless, this was a statement — a riposte of some significance after months of being left out in the cold by Guardiola.
Pardew sought a response of his own at half-time as he replaced the ineffective Andros Townsend with centre forward Connor Wickham in search of greater physical presence in his attack.
And his side would have been on level terms if it wasn’t for Bravo, who produced a brilliant point-blank stop to deny Christian Benteke’s bullet header from Jason Puncheon’s cross in the 56th minute before Zaha fired the rebound wide.
This should have been way more comfortable for Guardiola’s men, and had Sergio Aguero been more accurate with his finishing from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross then it would have been.
Aguero was denied again in the 65th minute, this time brilliantly by Hennessey who got a vital hand to the Argentine’s effort from De Bruyne’s low cross before Joel Ward completed the job by clearing off the line.
And seconds later Palace were level courtesy of a ruthless break away. Zaha, around 30 yards out, fed the ball into substitute Wickham just on the edge of the box and the former Sunderland striker powered past Pablo Zabaleta before firing a near-post shot past Bravo to level.
Zabaleta will be furious that he let Wickham past him so easily, while Bravo was just as much at fault for not stopping the equalisier.
However, City’s defensive deficiencies will not concern Pardew and why should they? He’s got more than enough of his own problems at Palace.
Serious problems at that. Having taken off Benteke — who looked less than enamoured by his substitution — for midfield workhorse Chung-yong Lee in the hope of consolidating his team’s position, Pardew saw Palace throw it all away seven minutes from time.
How no one got a foot on De Bruyne’s low corner caught the whole of Selhurst Park by surprise. Thankfully for City though, reborn Toure was alert to the opportunity.
Three yards out, dead centre, he tapped home to win the match for City. He may also have won back Guardiola’s heart.
culled from dailymail.co.uk