REUTERS – Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed his team’s spirit and the influence of Yaya Toure after a dramatic last-gasp victory over Swansea City took them back to the top of Premier League on Saturday.
Pellegrini had been unimpressed to see City pegged back by a last-minute equaliser for Swansea but saluted Toure for leading by example to make one final decisive contribution two minutes into stoppage time to earn City a barely-deserved 2-1 win.
City, looking jaded after their midweek Champions League win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, could hardly have complained if managerless Swansea, who had forced such good work from keeper Joe Hart, had left the Etihad Stadium with a point after Bafetimbi Gomis’s 90th minute goal.
But Toure, who won the BBC African Player of the Year award in midweek, demonstrated all his old powering influence as he surged forward one last time and curled in a shot which took a huge deflection off Kelechi Iheanacho and looped into the net.
“Yaya was one of the best players in this game. He was the player who tried to create different things,” Pellegrini told reporters after Iheanacho had been credited with the winner.
“Yaya just came back from an injury in his calf and he played in midweek and today so I’m happy for him.”
Yet he was adamant this was no one-man show. “I think that we showed the spirit of this team when we were drawing 1-1. We knew we weren’t playing that well but we also knew we had to find another goal and fortunately, we did,” Pellegrini said.
City, who have joined Leicester City on 32 points at the summit of the table but have a superior goal difference, now have a nine-day rest before travelling to Arsenal for a top of the table clash.
“That was our fifth game in 15 days. I knew this would be difficult because we played in the week and we were not 100 percent in terms of recovery.
“It’s important to keep a clean sheet but it’s also important for the team to win this kind of game,” added Pellegrini, who was unhappy that City gave up the late goal in a sub-par performance.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, Editing by Rex Gowar)