London: Yaya Toure returned to the Manchester City ranks on Saturday after his public apology to manager Pep Guardiola and scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, to lift them back to the top of the Premier League alongside leaders Liverpool.
While Liverpool's progress was checked with a goalless draw at Southampton, City clambered back level with the Reds on 27 points, thanks to old favourite Toure, whose stand-off with Guardiola was quickly forgiven and forgotten.
On an afternoon when Jose Mourinho moaned that Manchester United were "the unluckiest team in the Premier League" after Arsenal had snatched a 1-1 draw with an 89th-minute equaliser at Old Trafford, there was nothing lucky about City's victory.
While resting key players before the Champions League clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday, Guardiola took the chance to reintroduce Toure for his first league appearance of the season after the midfielder's apology following comments the player's agent had made about the club and manager.
He repaid the Spaniard's faith with a 39th-minute run and shot, and after Connor Wickham had equalised in the second half, netted an 83rd-minute winner.
After a three-month stand-off involving Toure, his agent and Guardiola, the Ivorian sounded emotional as he talked of being applauded back into the dressing room by his team mates. "They have always been brilliant with me, always supportive. I always want to be there to help them. I am professional, I always want to improve my game," he told the BBC. "I was prepared mentally and I knew that one day my manager would need me. You must always stay professional."
Liverpool's recent magisterial progress ended in driving rain at St Mary's, and though they extended their unbeaten sequence to 10 games, the league's top scorers failed to find the target and squandered a series of chances. It left them still leading the table on the strength of having scored more goals than City, but Chelsea, two points behind, have the chance to jump ahead of both if they win at Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Arsenal missed the chance to go top but had to be grateful just to extend their unbeaten streak to 17 games in all competitions after a last-gasp header from substitute Olivier Giroud earned them a barely deserved point at Manchester United.
Juan Mata had put United ahead in the second half of a game they dominated but Giroud's late rescue act left Mourinho cursing his luck, even if he had stretched his unbeaten league record against old foe Arsene Wenger to 12 matches.
"We are the unluckiest team in the Premier League," Mourinho said. "I'm not going to say they (Arsenal) didn't want to win but this couldn't be the way they normally play football. They were the lucky ones and we were the unlucky ones — but that's football."
The draw left Arsenal fourth on 25 points, the same as Chelsea.
At the other end of the table, Victor Anichebe scored twice, as Sunderland finally clambered off the bottom with a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Hull City.
Swansea City are now at rock bottom, with American Bob Bradley still looking for his first win as manager after Seamus Coleman equalised for hosts Everton in the 89th minute to secure a 1-1 draw.
Leicester City's difficult reign as champions continued as they went behind to an Etienne Capoue goal at Watford after 33 seconds and ended up losing 2-1, a defeat that left them two points above the relegation zone.
Published Date: Nov 20, 2016 10:20 am | Updated Date: Nov 20, 2016 10:21 am