LONDON  - South Korea's Ji Dong-Won struck in injury time as Sunderland dramatically beat Premier League leaders Manchester City 1-0 at the Stadium of Light here on Sunday. The result left City ahead of second-placed Manchester United on goal difference alone after they failed to make the most of their local rivals' shock 3-2 defeat by relegation-threatened Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday.
There were barely 10 seconds left of added on time when Ji, on as a substitute, was played in by Stephane Sessegnon and beat England goalkeeper Joe Hart from close range, although replays suggested the goalscorer was offside. Victory lifted Sunderland to 13th place, six points clear of the relegation zone.
City substitute Micah Richards nearly won the match for the visitors with two minutes left when he saw a header come back off the crossbar. In the first half, City striker Edin Dzeko was denied by Simon Mignolet and the woodwork. Dzeko's 32nd minute shot was blocked by the keeper and three minutes later the forward clipped the bar while Samir Nasri's effort was cleared off the line by Craig Gardner.
But Sunderland could have been ahead early in the game when striker Nicklas Bendtner was left one-on-one with Hart only for the keeper to come out on top. And one of the best chances of the second half fell to the Black Cats when Sessegnon outpaced the City defence only to screw his shot wide with just Hart to beat.
In the day's other Premier League match, Victor Anichebe came off the bench to score the only goal of the game in Everton's 1-0 win away to West Brom, the Nigeria striker on target three minutes from time. Victory for visitors Everton saw them climb to ninth place in the table and dropped West Brom down into 12th spot.
On Saturday, Manchester United missed the chance to start the New Year on top after suffering a 3-2 defeat to Blackburn as Arsenal went fourth after Chelsea crashed 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.
With Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrating his 70th birthday at Old Trafford, the stage was set for United to open up a three-point lead against crisis-hit bottom club Rovers.
But an 80th-minute winner from Grant Hanley settled a pulsating game in Rovers' favour after two goals from Dimitar Berbatov had helped United fight back from 2-0 down after Ayegbeni Yakubu's double for Blackburn.
"It is a disappointment," said Ferguson. "I never expected it. We lost two terrible goals and you can't do that."
Didier Drogba shot Chelsea ahead from the penalty spot on 28 for his 15oth goal for Chelsea. But Villa silenced the home crowd just five minutes later when Stephen Ireland rifled home a rebound after his first effort had cannoned off John Terry on the Chelsea goal-line.
And two goals in the final seven minutes from Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent handed Aston Villa victory as boos rang out around the ground following a fourth game without a win. Arsenal were the main beneficiaries of Chelsea's loss, Robin van Persie bagging his 35th Premier League goal of 2011 as Arsenal downed QPR 1-0 at the Emirates to move into fourth spot. Van Persie's 60th-minute winner saw him finish just one goal away from Alan Shearer's calendar goalscoring record of 36.
Arsenal's win also saw them gain ground on third placed Tottenham, who had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Swansea after Scott Sinclair's late goal for the Welsh club cancelled out Rafael van der Vaart's opener for Spurs.
A bruising encounter at the Britannia Stadium saw 10-man Wigan snatch a 2-2 draw with Stoke, Ben Watson scoring with his first touch from the penalty spot to give the Latics a share of the points.