Ageing Toure shows he can still deliver
Yaya provides reminder that he remains unstoppable on his day
ROUND OF 16, 1ST LEG
DYNAMO KIEV 1
(Vitaliy Buyalsky 58)
MAN CITY 3
(Sergio Aguero 15, David Silva 40, Yaya Toure 90)
With a swing of his left foot, he shot back at his critics on a cold night in Kiev.
This is why Manuel Pellegrini has kept faith with Yaya Toure despite the inconsistent season he is having.
His well-taken goal almost certainly books a ticket to the Champions League quarter-finals as City beat Dynamo Kiev 3-1 in the first leg of the Round-of-16 clash in Ukraine yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Barring a collapse in the second leg, the Citizens are guaranteed of making the last eight of Europe's elite club competition for the first time in their history.
The statisticians will be quick to point out that Toure scored his first Champions League goal in 730 minutes.
Two weeks ago, the 32-year-old was conspicuous by his error-strewn display as City crashed to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of title rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Pellegrini was under extreme pressure to deliver a win after the FA Cup farce and, just when he needed a source of inspiration, Toure answered his manager's call.
Rested for the 5-1 defeat by Chelsea, he definitely looked refreshed.
The Ivory Coast international set up Sergio Aguero for the opening goal on 15 minutes, then scored the game's best goal in the 90th minute to seal the tie.
From his central midfield position, he completed 57 out of 58 passes.
During his frequent attacking forays, he always seemed a threat.
With Toure, it is seldom black or white.
He lurks in the middle and lets observers decide.
It is especially after performances like this one that the agonising process starts all over again.
No one can doubt the brilliance in his legs.
Toure, who turns 33 in May, is an unstoppable one-man destroyer on his day.
He casually pulls off what many struggle to contemplate.
Against Dynamo, he looked set to operate in the role behind striker Aguero, but the position was instead given to David Silva, scorer of City's second goal in the 40th minute.
Toure retreated into a deeper midfield role, as is often the case these days, alongside Fernando.
But, with the team ordered by manager Pellegrini to show aggression without the ball, he thrived in the freedom to play off the front two.
His knock-down from Silva's corner in the 15th minute was cushioned to perfection, allowing Aguero to chest-and-strike without breaking stride.
He married steel and style in his own late effort, brushing aside his marker using raw strength before deftly lifting the ball off the turf with such subtlety.
What Pellegrini needs to live with is the inconsistency that comes with the ageing genius.
There are those who believe the impending arrival of Pep Guardiola has affected Toure's form.
After all, it was Guardiola (when he was manager of Barcelona) who sold Toure to City after deciding that he preferred Sergio Busquets in the defensive midfield position.
Yes, age is catching up with Toure. His deteriorating fitness could be the reason behind the fluctuating performance levels.
Pellegrini knows that his midfield lynchpin can no longer run as fast or last as long.
But the fact that Toure has missed just six games in all competitions is the clearest indication that the Chilean is willing to take the bad with the good.
As City prepare to enter uncharted waters in Europe's premier club competition, their vice-captain's leadership and experience are needed more than ever.
He may well turn out to be the ace up Pellegrini's sleeve.
BY THE NUMBERS
57 Manchester City's Yaya Toure completed 57 of his 58 passes against Dynamo Kiev.
730 Toure's 90th-minute strike was his first Champions League goal in 730 minutes.