LONDON (AP) — Yaya Toure returned from his Manchester City exile to score twice, inspiring the team to a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace in the English Premier League on Saturday.
The Ivorian midfielder was a surprise inclusion in Pep Guardiola's starting XI, making his first Premier League appearance of the season, and justified his selection by scoring goals in the 39th and 83rd minutes to bring City level on 27 points with first-placed Liverpool.
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Substitute Connor Wickham's 66th-minute goal briefly made it 1-1 but Palace slumped to a fifth successive defeat.
Toure's only previous first-team appearance this season came in City's 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest in a Champions League qualifier on Aug. 24. His agent, Dimitri Seluk, had been vocal in his criticism of City manager Pep Guardiola, who he said had “humiliated” Toure by omitting him from the squad for the Champions League group stage.
That led to Toure being ostracized by Guardiola, only for the midfielder to issue an apology for “misunderstandings of the past.”
There was also a rare start for long-serving captain Vincent Kompany, but the defender only lasted until the 37th when he came off with a suspected head injury soon after teammate Claudio Bravo clattered into him when they challenged for the ball.
It was in the 39th, after Palace defender Martin Kelly conceded possession, that Toure's vision gave City the lead. From the edge of a crowded penalty area, he received a pass from Sergio Aguero and played a one-two with Nolito before shooting powerfully beyond Wayne Hennessey — via a deflection off James Tomkins — into the back of the net.
Palace manager Alan Pardew responded at halftime by replacing Andros Townsend with Wickham and was rewarded when his team produced a greater intensity and Christian Benteke threatened with a header.
As it pressed for the equalizing goal, City almost doubled its lead when Joel Ward, after Hennessey had taken the sting out of a near-post shot from Aguero, was forced to clear off the line, but the chance they needed almost instantly followed.
With time in City's half, Wilfried Zaha found Wickham in space and after a slightly heavy touch, the striker ran into the area and powerfully shot under Bravo.
The exceptional talents of Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne on each of City's wings led the response with which the visitors sought to restore their lead.
City's winning goal came from an 83rd-minute corner, with De Bruyne sending a low cross toward the near post where substitute David Silva dummied to deceive Hennessey and his defense.
Toure routinely finished from in front of goal to seal an impressive comeback.