Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola admits Toure is playing his way into Man City's European plans

Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 2

By Declan Warrington

Pep Guardiola has revealed he will consider recalling Yaya Toure to Manchester City's Champions League squad after the midfielder impressed on his return to their first team.

Making only his second appearance of the season, Toure scored both of City's goals on a testing afternoon in which they ground out Saturday's 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace.

It was Toure's first Premier League appearance of the season after his agent publicly criticised Guardiola for leaving him out of City's Champions League squad.

Dimitri Seluk had accused Guardiola of "humiliating" Toure by excluding him from his 25-strong selection and the Spaniard responded by excluding him from first-team football until Toure's recent apology.

Saturday's selection was a surprise but did allow Guardiola to rest some regulars ahead of Wednesday's Champions League fixture at Borussia Monchengladbach - David Silva came off the bench while Ilkay Gundogan was not involved - but the manager said nothing is set in stone should City progress in Europe.

"Toure is another guy to compete with our midfield players and increase our level," Guardiola said. "He's not able to play on Wednesday, or in the last (group) game against Celtic.

"If we are able to qualify for the Champions League (knockout stages), I will sit with myself, my staff, and we will decide who are the best players to help us achieve in the Champions League. I'm here to take decisions. Maybe I'll make mistakes, but I have to take decisions and I respect that all people cannot agree with me.

"As a player there is no doubts. If there was a doubt he would not be here."

Guardiola denied regretting his decision not to select Toure for Europe, and insisted their victory at Palace had demonstrated their ability to win the Premier League.

"To achieve titles you have to win the games when you don't play well," he said. "So I was a little bit worried against Middlesbrough, when you don't concede and you create enough chances to win (and still don't).

"(This) maybe was a good step, but in the long term you have to play better. I am more satisfied when we play (well but don't win) against Middlesbrough for example, against Everton, even Tottenham in the second half, than (against Palace), but you have to win."

The result means Palace have suffered five straight defeats, and their manager Alan Pardew was critical of his players' efforts in defending against Toure's second goal.

"The message with what one of our players needed to do didn't come from one of the substitutes to him," he said. "And that is not acceptable to me.

"That is a little bit frustrating. And more than frustrating at the end, when you are finding out why that didn't happen. It is an unusual mistake for us."

CRYSTAL PALACE: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Tomkins, Kelly (Sako, 85 mins), McArthur, Cabaye, Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend (Wickham, 46 mins), C Benteke (Lee, 80 mins). Unused subs: Speroni, Delaney, Flamini, Mutch.

MAN CITY: Bravo, Sagna, Kompany (Zabaleta, 37 mins), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Nolito (Silva, 67 mins), Aguero (Fernando, 85 mins). Unused subs: Caballero, Navas, Sane, Iheanacho.

Referee: Robert Madley

Man of the match: Yaya Toure

Match rating: 7/10

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