Toure begins to pay off massive investment

LONDON - Yaya Toure, one of football's highest-paid players on a reported 10 million pounds a year, repaid a chunk of that investment with the goal that ended Manchester City's 35-year trophy drought on Saturday.

The 74th-minute strike that secured a 1-0 FA Cup Final win over Stoke City will be celebrated wildly by the club's supporters, just as they lauded his effort in the same net that beat Manchester United in the semi-final to set up the club's fifth FA Cup success and first trophy since 1976.

The seemingly bottomless pockets of owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan enabled City to pay 24 million pounds to prize Toure away from Barcelona and pay him a wage reported by local media to be a startling 200,000 pounds per week.

As other big names arrived at Eastlands, Toure told Reuters at the start of the season: "We can make this club huge."

Ten months later they are on their way with that precious first piece of silverware and, more importantly for their immediate and long-term future, assured of a top-four finish in the Premier League and access to the Champions League.

"The dream is now real and it's so fantastic to win, fantastic for the history of the club," the Ivorian told reporters.

"For me when we started the season, I said to the other players it would be fantastic to win something, and I think it is amazing we have won this final to go with our Champions League place."

BATTLING DEFENCE

Although Stoke failed to offer anything much more than battling defence in their first final appearance the game was heading extra time as City's chances began to dry up.

But after a backheel by Mario Balotelli and a half-cleared David Silva shot, the ball fell to Toure near the penalty spot and he drove home a blistering low shot that, in comic books of old, would have left the netting in shreds.

The banks of City fans rose to acclaim their moment but one among them must have found it a bitter-sweet moment.

Beyond the incredible salary, one of the reasons Toure signed for the club was the presence of older brother Kolo, who began the season as captain having joined from Arsenal the previous year.

However, instead of lining up at the heart of City's defence and lifting the famous trophy, Kolo Toure was sitting in the stands as he has done since March when he was suspended following a positive drugs test.