Mario Balotelli struck a dramatic injury-time penalty as Manchester City overcame a brave Tottenham fightback to win 3-2 and take a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League on Sunday.
Substitute Balotelli blasted in his spot-kick deep into injury time after the Italian striker had been bundled over by Ledley King for a clear-cut penalty.
But the City forward's winner was tinged with controversy after television replays suggested he was lucky not to be sent off in an earlier tangle with Scott Parker where he appeared to stamp on the Spurs midfielder's head.
The finale capped a remarkable game which had seen Spurs recover from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 with goals from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale after City had taken the lead through Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott.
Spurs' agony was compounded by a chance missed by Defoe moments before City's winner which might have given them a 3-2 lead, the striker just failing to tuck away a low cross from Bale.
The result saw City take a six-point lead at the top of the table although second-placed Manchester United can reduce the deficit if they win at Arsenal in Sunday's late match.
Assistant City manager David Platt hailed Balotelli's composure in striking the winning penalty but declined to comment on the player's earlier flashpoint involving Parker.
"Mario has got that ability to put a penalty like that away," Platt said. "With penalties he's got full confidence in himself, he looks at the keeper and tries to make the keeper make a mistake.
"I haven't seen the incident with Balotelli so I can't comment on it until I see it. If we continue to amass points and carry on winning we'll be tough to beat, but it doesn't change anything in terms of the title race."
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was fuming following the incident however.
"Balotelli has kicked Scott Parker in the head purposely. He's back-heeled him in the head," Redknapp said. "I don't know why you would do that on a football pitch. It's there for everybody to see."
After a scrappy first half where neither side managed to get a grip on the game, the contest exploded into life shortly after the restart with four goals inside nine minutes.
City drew first blood with a wonderfully worked opener on 56 minutes, David Silva releasing Nasri with a perfectly weighted through ball which took the French international beyond the Spurs defence.
The former Arsenal star ghosted away from Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul and unleashed an unstoppable first-time shot that flew past Brad Friedel.
City looked to have taken a stranglehold on the match within three minutes when Lescott made it 2-0.
Edin Dzeko rose to flick on from a corner and Lescott was on hand to bundle the ball home after outmuscling Scott Parker near the goal-line.
But City's goal celebrations had barely subsided before Tottenham were handed a way back into the game after a mistake by Stefan Savic.
A hopeful clearance forward from Kaboul was headed back towards the City goal by the Montenegrin defender but fell only as far as Defoe, who coolly rounded Joe Hart before stroking home to make it 2-1.
Five minutes later and Spurs were level. Aaron Lennon glided in off the left flank and laid off to Bale on the edge of the area, who unleashed a curling shot into the top corner beyond Hart.