Yaya Toure waited to be substituted before making his most telling contribution to this season's run-in.

His number was up after 66 minutes and the Manchester City midfielder elected to jog towards the touchline despite being in little hurry to come off, allowing for a moment of pageantry as he showed off his newfound fitness.

The midfielder had not played in two weeks as a result of a thigh problem and seemed intent on announcing his return for all to hear. Toure created his side's first goal at Selhurst Park and scored the other himself, taking his side to within three points of Barclays Premier League leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

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He moves remarkably freely for a player carrying the hopes of his club on his shoulders. Toure has now scored 23 times this season and is a dominant figure in both City's squad, and on their team sheet. "Toure being fit was a real disappointment for me because he's a wonderful player," said Tony Pulis, the Crystal Palace manager.

The London side were shaken by Toure after just four minutes when he chipped a delicious free-kick into the path of Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian had time to lick his lips before he steered the ball past Julian Speroni.

The Palace goalkeeper would be found retreating back into his net to retrieve the ball again two minutes before half-time. Toure had put it there with a sure finish, following a neat one-two with Dzeko.

"You saw him, he was very important for both goals," said Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, whose side face Everton on Saturday. "Yaya only worked with the team the last two days, that's why he didn't play more than 60 minutes. But he's a very important player for us. Having Yaya fit will be very important."

The Ivory Coast internationalist is such an imposing figure that he demands attention almost as much as he does passes. A delicate touch and sweeping run from midfield after the break suggested Toure has the mind of an artist, while he sight of Scott Dann rebounding off him in a later challenge suggests the City midfielder is also as sturdy as a marble statue.

"We have always trusted that we can do it," Pellegrini said of his side's enduring bid for the title. "For the moment we'll continue in third position, so we have to play and win our three games. But the good thing is that the destiny is in our own hands at the moment.

"This league will be decided by a narrow margin, maybe one point, maybe even goal difference; maybe the goal difference will be important. We must win the three games, I've said all year that all the big teams must feel pressure to win the title."

Perhaps, although Toure is taking it all in his stride.