Belfast Telegraph

Swansea 1 - 3 Man City: Cool Yaya leads City charge

When his team needed him most, Yaya Toure ensured Manchester City issued a statement of intent with their seventh straight win.

In pouring rain, City's unconvincing away form in the Premier League looked to have resurfaced when Wilfried Bony capped Swansea's first-half dominance by cancelling out Fernandino's early strike.

But Toure was the catalyst to a second half recovery with his 12th of the season before Aleksandar Kolarov ensured City kicked off the new year in impressive form to keep the pressure on their title rivals at the start of a month that could go some way to shaping their pursuit of a domestic treble.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini (below) said: "Yaya was very important because he scored the second goal in the right moment. It was maybe the best moment for Swansea who grew after their goal and we knew it would be difficult for us.

"But the team had the character to change it. That character is very important because we dropped too many points away at the beginning of the season away.

"It's not good for this team to win just 11 points out of 27 in the first half of the season.

"So winning the first game away of the new year against a very difficult team, is very important for us."

Toure added: "It's really important because we continue to fight until the end for the team and the club and we want to win this trophy. If we continue likes this at the end of the season we can be really happy."

Swansea deserved more than a sixth league game in a row without victory, not least for two thundering strikes by Bony, later dedicated to a close friend who recently died from cancer.

Manager Michael Laudrup said: "He (Bony) scored two goals, but with his movement as well, it was by far the best performance from him as a Swansea player.

"If he can do it against Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic then he can do it against anyone."

Bony twice had Joe Hart at full stretch at the start and end of the first-half dominated by Swansea, despite City's early score shortly and losing midfielder Pablo Hernandez to injury.

It was fitting that World Cup year should kick-off with a Brazilian scoring the first Premier League goal of 2014.

Samir Nasri's corner was nudged into the path of the on-rushing Fernandinho, who scored through a crowd of white jerseys.

Yet Swansea recovered and proved they were more than a match for City's flowing football.

Jonjo Shelvey, Jonathan De Guzman and Angel Rangel were all at the end of sweeping moves but Swansea failed to capitalise.

Such was Swansea's ambition and confidence that even centre-backs Chico Flores and Ashley Williams surged forward with City reeling.

Swansea got the rub of the green when Bony drifted between Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta to head home de Guzman's floated cross. The striker was marginally off-side but the goal was the least he – and Swansea – deserved.

Half-time brought relief for Pellegrini and his team was re-ignited, smothering Swansea's play-makers to stem the flow to regain the initiative.

Toure got City back on the front foot. The giant central midfielder was like Gulliver chasing the Lilliputians in the first half but Swansea struggled to maintain the tempo and Toure was imperious after the break with his strength and touch.

He used both to put City back in front on 57 minutes when he shrugged off Jose Canas to give himself time to unleash a shot that deflected off Williams past Gerhard Tremmel.

That was unfortunate but the German goalkeeper should have done better nine minutes later to prevent Kolorov plundering City's third, to settle the contest.

Kolorov easily out-muscled Wayne Routledge before sauntering 40 yards up-field to fire a shot that had too much power for Tremmel to handle.

Opposite number Hart also wobbled when he utterly misjudged a corner but Williams failed to connect. Hart could do little when Bony struck another thunder-bolt in injury-time.

The Ivory Coast striker, who revealed an 'RIP Anouk' message' on his shirt, dedicated his double to a close friend who recently died to cancer. Bony said: "It has been a very emotional time for me."

Bony's second strike came too late for the Swans to mount a charge for an equaliser with City moving top of the table for a few hours before Arsenal overtook them thanks to a nailbiting victory over Cardiff. City are playing well, winning and in a great position to pounce. With Toure so instrumental, City are the team to beat in the title race.

Belfast Telegraph

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