Saturday 24 February 2018

Toure de Force: Guardiola hails Yaya after decisive double in return to action

Manchester City's Yaya Toure scored twice as his team won 2-1 at Crystal Palace
Manchester City's Yaya Toure scored twice as his team won 2-1 at Crystal Palace

Pep Guardiola praised the "very special" Yaya Toure after the midfielder returned from his Manchester City exile to inspire their 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Making his first Premier League appearance of the season, Toure gave City a half-time lead with his first goal before, with his second, securing the three points that came under threat after Connor Wickham's second-half finish.

The fall-out that began with public criticism from Toure's agent Dimitri Seluk, who accused City boss Guardiola of "humiliating" the midfielder when omitting him from City's Champions League squad, meant he had played only once this season in the 1-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest in August.

Toure more recently apologised for the "misunderstanding", however, and after the result had taken his second-placed team level on 27 points with league leaders Liverpool, Guardiola said: "He's a very special player.

"His performance was not about my decision, it's about his quality. Yaya was, for the last two months, training really well. His physical condition is better than ever. I'm so happy for him and his family.

"He's now a real part of the team and can help us achieve our targets. We need this kind of player.

"The Premier League, Champions League and cups are so demanding. John Stones didn't play, so we need all the players to be fit to achieve our targets."

Asked if Toure had been selected to allow other players to rest in preparation for Wednesday's Champions League trip to Borussia Monchengladbach, Guardiola responded: "It's for many, many, many reasons. Now we have Yaya. We will have Yaya during the season. He's ready and can play with us.

"You know the reason why (he had been left out)."

The manager also explained the absence of Stones and Ilkay Gundogan owed to each being "so tired" after international duty - Spain's David Silva also started on the bench - and confirmed recalled captain Vincent Kompany had to come off with a head injury that "hopefully won't be too serious".

Toure had earlier been asked by the BBC about being clapped back into the City dressing room by his team-mates, and he said: "I was prepared mentally and I knew that one day my manager would need me. You must always stay professional.

"I was delighted to play, it was difficult for me. I am very happy to be playing football, my team-mates are very important to me."

Despite an improved performance, the result means Palace have lost their past five fixtures and remain only a point above the bottom three, and their manager Alan Pardew said: "(City's) best players were their defenders.

"But I just feel for our group, the players and the fans, because it doesn't look good at the moment with the results we've had. And yet our performances suggest we can turn it around. We need to do that quickly

"We have games coming up where we need to take points. The position in the league is putting pressure on us."

Press Association

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