Manuel Pellegrini claims Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is finally rediscovering the form that made him one of the Premier League's most dominant players last season.
Ivory Coast international Toure scored the winner as City beat Swansea 2-1 at Eastlands on Saturday to remain within eight points of leaders Chelsea and also silence some of the criticism he has received for his indifferent form this season.
It was only Toure's fourth goal of a campaign marred by speculation he is keen to leave, in comparison to the seven he had claimed by the same point 12 months ago on his way to scoring 24 as he fired City to the title.
But it was nevertheless a goal, and performance, which gave City manager Pellegrini great pleasure, especially after the midfielder helped the Ivory Coast qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations against Cameroon in midweek.
"I think it was an important game for Yaya," Pellegrini said. "Maybe, because he played for the national team on Wednesday and played two games in a week, he was tired but he had the character to try to continue to play until the end.
"I think he played very well but I don't think you can analyse whether Yaya scores or doesn't score.
"It is impossible for him to score the amount of goals he scored last season, he's not a striker, he's a midfielder.
"But it's important for him to score in the way he did today but also important for him to play well and I think Yaya is improving every game."
City were forced to come back from an early opening goal from Wilfried Bony, with Stevan Jovetic equalising prior to Toure's winner.
Having gone into the game with Sergio Aguero having scored 12 of City's 22 league goals, Pellegrini was pleased to see other players contributing to the goals scored column.
"Of course, I thought exactly the same about last season," he said.
"Last season we scored so many goals but all the players were involved in scoring. Today, Sergio couldn't do it but Yaya and Stevan were important also.
"It's always important for a player to score but more than Yaya, the whole team must be happy because I think we played very well today."
City now move on to Tuesday's home Champions League group meeting with Bayern Munich, a game which the English champions must win to retain realistic hopes of advancing to the knock-out stage.
They will do so without Toure and fellow-midfielder Fernandinho, who are suspended following red cards in the last fixture against CSKA Moscow, but with a sense of having rediscovered some form.
"It is better to arrive at a Champions League game against a difficult team like Bayern Munich winning the last game, not losing it, because then the trust in the team is better," Pellegrini said.
"But this win was very important for the Premier League also. We have to add more points.
"We have 21 to play for from the seven games in December and it is very important for us to try to win as many points as we can."
Swansea had chances late in the game to snatch a point, with Bafetimbi Gomis missing when played clean through on goal and a deflected Jonjo Shelvey free-kick striking a post.
"At the end we should have taken one of those chances and a point," said manager Garry Monk.
"But it shows how far we have come, as a club and as a team, to come off the pitch disappointed.
"We've been here in the Premier League before and never played anywhere near that well, it shows the journey we're on and the way in which we're improving."
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