EPL 2016/17: Yaya Toure returns and hurts Palace with match winning brace
Forgiven Yaya Toure returns to Manchester City's first team to grab match winning brace for Pep Guardiola.
Not many get the opportunity to make epic comebacks. Heroic football comebacks are even rarer than finding an ice-cube in the Sahara. Yaya Toure was indeed out in the cold of but delivered the best reaction to being frozen out.
His manager had declared that Toure would sit out of the first team selections and even left him out of Manchester City’s Champions League squad, until he received an apology from the Ivorian’s agent.
An eventual and unreserved apology was tendered in by Toure and Guardiola wasted no time getting him into the first team. A timely arrival to join his elite colleagues at the Etihad was greeted with smiles at the training grounds.
There were more smiles seen at the Selhurst Park when the former Barcelona midfielder scored the winner for City after Connor Wickham grabbed an equaliser for Palace.
Wickham had been brought off the bench at the break to replace the struggling Andros Townsend. Up until that point, City looked comfortable, their inconsistent run in recent times was to be issued a time-out. Forgotten man Toure had given Guardiola’s side the lead in the 39th minute with an unstoppable shot past Wayne Hennessy after interchanging passes with Nolito inside the Palace area.
A moment the midfielder will capture into a picture frame and pin in the most perceptible section of his exotic apartment. From nowhere, Toure was now the man rescuing City’s title chances.
Alan Pardew’s side were labouring at the point, with only a weak effort at Claudio Bravo from Christian Benteke despite City parading a makeshift defence. Bacary Sagna was sent to the centre of the back line after Vincent Kompany was taken off. The Belgian, who started only his second game for City after replacing the rested John Stones, has had a torrid last two years and it's getting worse for him.
This time, the club’s doctors will treat him for blurred vision after a collision with Bravo. City knew taming an attack that boasted Benteke and Wickham – two physically imposing attackers – was going to be burdensome, however, the defence dealt well with Palace’s threats.
Toure grabbed this opportunity with both hands. The 33-year-old’s comeback into the City side will be remembered as a telling point come May if the Citizens hoist the Premier League trophy, and he scored another goal to return City into the lead.
He tapped home from close range after Kevin De Bruyne’s corner kick evaded everyone in the box but met Toure who converted to make it 2-1.
The away side should have seen a more comfortable result than it finally was. Sergio Aguero was guilty of missing a flurry of chances due to inaccurate shots but was denied by the decent Hennessy in the 65th minute, saving a sweet connection from De Bruyne’s cross, before Joel Ward finally cleared off the line to save Palace’s blushes.
Guardiola’s decision to bring Toure back has earned his side only a second win in their last five Premier League games. The win has managed to keep up the pressure on Liverpool who failed to win their game against Southampton and ultimately couldn't widen the gap between them and their rivals.
Placed second on the league standings with 27 points after a dozen games in the campaign, Guardiola will know that Toure will be important to City more now than ever if he is to win any piece of silverware this season.
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