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”.