Fightback not good enough for City
Manchester City dropped two potentially vital points in the Barclays Premier League title race despite a rousing late fightback saw them claim a 3-3 draw against Sunderland.
Mario Balotelli's second goal of the afternoon and a powerful Aleksandar Kolarov strike inside the last five minutes at the Etihad Stadium earned City a draw but it was not enough to take them back top.
Sunderland had powered into a 3-1 lead with two goals from Sebastian Larsson and a fine header from Nicklas Bendtner.
The visitors deservedly went ahead on the half hour as Larsson produced a superb finish from the edge of the area, beating Joe Hart with a low shot into the bottom corner.
City got back into the game from the penalty spot after referee Phil Dowd controversially ruled that Craig Gardner had upended Edin Dzeko.
Sunderland were furious at the decision but Balotelli kept his cool to level.
An argument broke out between Dzeko and Phil Bardsley when play was stopped following a clash of heads between Micah Richards and Jack Colback. Balotelli proved an unlikely peacemaker and play eventually restarted, with Sunderland reclaiming the lead in first-half injury time as Bendtner planted a firm header past Hart from a Stephane Sessegnon cross.
Sessegnon then launched the attack which led to Sunderland's third on 55 minutes, Bendtner racing into space down the right and playing a low ball into the box for Larsson to slide in at the far post.
City sent on Carlos Tevez for David Silva but it was Balotelli who reduced the arrears with a fine goal, all of his own making, five minutes from time as he came in from the left and fired past Simon Mignolet from distance.
The hosts threw everything into attack and were rewarded again as substitute David Pizarro rolled the ball wide for Kolarov to smash home.