Frank Lampard celebrated his loan extension by scoring the winning goal as Manchester City edged Sunderland 3-2 on Thursday to move level on points with Premier League leaders Chelsea.
City announced late on Wednesday that Lampard's loan move from their sister club New York City FC had been prolonged to the end of the season and he proved his worth by coming off the bench to score the winner.
City, who left goalkeeper Joe Hart on the bench, took the lead in the 57th minute at the Etihad Stadium when Yaya Toure slammed an exquisite shot into the top-left corner from outside the box.
Stevan Jovetic's flick made it 2-0, but just as they had done in Sunday's 2-2 draw with Burnley, the champions allowed Sunderland back into the game.
Two City old boys did the damage, with Jack Rodwell's header reducing the arrears in the 68th minute and Adam Johnson equalising from the penalty spot three minutes later after Pablo Zabaleta had fouled Santiago Vergini.
But just three minutes after replacing Jovetic, Lampard headed home a cross from Gael Clichy to take City level with his former club Chelsea, who visit Tottenham Hotspur in the late New Year's Day fixture.
Earlier, Manchester United had lost further momentum in the title race after drawing 1-1 with Stoke City at a windy Britannia Stadium.
Radamel Falcao equalised for the visitors in the 26th minute after former United trainee Ryan Shawcross had scored the first goal of 2015 in the second minute by hooking home from Peter Crouch's header.
United remain third, but will fall 12 points off the pace if Chelsea win at White Hart Lane.
"We didn't deserve any more than a draw," said United manager Louis van Gaal, who lost Ashley Young to a hamstring injury. "They were closer to a winning goal than us. We should have played better today."
Southampton tightened their grip on fourth place and closed to within a point of United by winning 2-0 at home to nearest rivals Arsenal, who fell three points off the Champions League places as a result.
Sadio Mane curled home from a narrow angle on the right after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny went walkabout in the 34th minute, with Dusan Tadic adding a second in the 56th minute after a defensive mix-up.
Freshly appointed West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis watched from the stands as his new club drew 1-1 at West Ham United, with Saido Berahino cancelling out Diafra Sakho's neatly constructed 10th-minute opener.
The result kept West Brom a point above the relegation zone.
Second-bottom Burnley showed extraordinary spirit to come from behind three times and force a 3-3 draw at Newcastle United, whose manager, Alan Pardew, is on the verge of joining Crystal Palace.
Steven Taylor's 15th-minute header put Newcastle ahead, only for his team-mate Paul Dummett to inadvertently loop a header over goalkeeper Jak Alnwick for a comical own goal.
Jack Colback drilled home a fine goal from 25 yards to restore Newcastle's lead and injuries to Dean Shackell, Dean Marney and Kevin Long meant that Burnley had used all their substitutes by half-time.
Danny Ings drew the away side level again with a 66th-minute glancing header, before Moussa Sissoko put Newcastle 3-2 up, and George Boyd crashed home a third Burnley equaliser with four minutes to play.
Pardew was in the stands to watch Palace draw 0-0 at Aston Villa, ahead of his expected appointment as the successor to the sacked Neil Warnock.
Liverpool's recent momentum was curbed as they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at home to bottom club Leicester City, which left them seven points below the top four in eighth place.
A pair of first-half Steven Gerrard penalties put Liverpool in control, but two goals in two minutes by David Nugent and Jeffrey Schlupp prevented Brendan Rodgers's side from registering a third successive win.
Substitute Wilfried Bony earned Swansea City a 1-1 draw at Queens Park Rangers, cancelling out Leroy Fer's 20th-minute thunderbolt with a cool last-minute strike.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Elmohamady and Nikica Jelavic scored unanswered goals as Hull City condemned Everton to a fourth straight loss.