Local boy Adam Johnson returned to haunt Sunderland as Manchester City snatched a dramatic 1-1 draw on Wearside to maintain their Champions League hopes.
The substitute, who turned down a January move to the Stadium of Light to head for City instead, came off the bench to level in stoppage time and finally end the home side's stubborn resistance.
It was hard luck on Black Cats goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who pulled off five fine second-half saves, three of them from Newcastle old boy Craig Bellamy, to protect the lead given to his side by Kenwyne Jones' ninth-minute header.
Sunderland were within seconds of clinching back-to-back Barclays Premier League victories for the first time since December 2008, a run of 48 games.
However, they were warmly applauded from the pitch by a crowd of 41,398 after very nearly adding City's scalp to those of Liverpool and Arsenal, five days after ending their 14-game winless league run against Bolton.
The visitors came desperately close to leaving the north east empty-handed despite rallying well after a dismal first-half display.
Sunderland got their noses in front within nine minutes when Jones rose majestically to power in a header from Steed Malbranque's pinpoint cross, and rarely looked like surrendering their lead.
But whatever Roberto Mancini had said to his players at the break seemed to have done the trick as they returned in determined fashion.
Gordon had to make vital saves, keeping out efforts from Roque Santa Cruz, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Carlos Tevez and Bellamy.
But there was nothing he could do to keep out Johnson at the death, the former Middlesbrough winger curling a long-range effort high over his out-stretched arm into the top corner to snatch two points from Sunderland's grasp.
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