Manchester United missed the opportunity of going joint level at the top of the Premiership after crashing 3-0 at Fulham. Fulham were fully deserved of the three points. Danny Murphy gave the Cottagers the lead after a mistake by makeshift centre half Darren Fletcher.
This advantage was doubled immediately after the break when in-form striker Bobby Zamora fired past Tomasz Kuszczak.
Damien Duff rounded off a splendid afternoon for the home side by volleying a third with 15 minutes remaining.
But, by the 24th minute City's defensive frailties allowed Sunderland to draw level.
Johns Mensah reduced the deficit then Jordan Henderson smashed an equaliser.
Before the break City regained the initiative as Craig Bellamy coolly finished just after the half hour.
Back came the visitor's in the second half and Kenwyne Jones again brought the scores level on 62 minutes.
Seven minutes later came the winning goal as Santa Cruz claimed his second of the afternoon.
Goals late on in both halves saw off Rovers who saw Benni McCarthy hit a post but overall Spurs were good vale for the win.
Ashley Young provided the cross for John Carew to claim the winner in the second half.
Glenn Whelan blazed over for the Potters during a goalless first half.