Carlos Tevez struck two goals for the Blues in a hard-fought 3-2 win over Blackpool that sees City now within two points of leaders Chelsea.
The introduction of David Silva proved the turning point in a game that had looked to be slipping away from City in fascinating Lancashire derby with the Tangerines who continue to punch well above their weight.
The two teams walked out to a packed and noisy Bloomfield Road for the first top-flight meeting since 1970 when six goals were shared during a 3-3 draw. With a typically stiff and chilly wind blowing in off the sea, City set about chasing their fourth successive Premier League win while the hosts were aiming to win their first home game of the campaign.
Though Blackpool boss Ian Holloway had claimed this game was “one of the biggest mis-matches of all-time”, Roberto Mancini countered any thoughts of complacency by suggesting this would be a stern test from a very capable team.
Nonetheless, the City boss fielded perhaps his most attacking side of the season with Adam Johnson and Emmanuel Adebayor recalled to the starting eleven, while Joleon Lescott and the fit-again Wayne Bridge returned to the back four.
The Blues began brightly with Carlos Tevez rolling the ball across the box after two minutes but there was nobody there to tap the ball home and on six minutes Johnson cut in from the right to force Gilks into a good save – but that was about as good as it got in a half where Blackpool were largely the better side.
City came out after the break looking sharper and more direct, but the Seasiders should have taken the lead on 54 minutes when Luke Varney broke clear and found DJ Campbell alone in the box but as Joe Hart raced out he poked the ball past the post.
Seconds later and the home fans were in raptures as Gary Taylor-Fletcher controlled a long ball and finished with aplomb – only to see the assistant referee’s flag raised for a questionable offside. It would have been no more than the hosts deserved with the Blues unable to get any kind of grip on the game.
In fact, by the hour-mark, it looked a matter of time before Blackpool went ahead as they continually asked questions of the City back four. Mancini decided to take off Adebayor and replace him with David Silva – and the move paid off within a couple of minutes with the Spaniard setting up the opening goal on 67 minutes.
Silva found James Milner on the edge of the box and the England man returned the pass for Silva to pick out Tevez who flicked the ball home from five yards out. The Blues suddenly found the confidence that had been lacking all afternoon and three minutes later Milner crashed a curling 20-yard shot off the underside of the bar.
Then, within 60 seconds, the game swung one way and then another in a minute of drama that saw Blackpool level the score and City re-take the lead.
Firstly, Charlie Adam’s free-kick was glanced home by substitute Marlon Harewood on 78 minutes after Bridge gave away a free-kick 25 yards out and then, straight from the kick-off, Bridge raced 20 yards into the Blackpool half and as he was challenged the ball fell to Tevez who pushed the ball to his left before striking a deflected shot past Gilks from the edge of the box.
Tevez and Silva had time to hit the woodwork as the Blues ended in the ascendency but it was super-sub Silva who capped off a fantastic cameo role with a stunning third on 90 minutes. After twice feigning a shot the Spain star curled a beautiful drive past Gilks to seal the points for City and make it 3-1.
There was still time for Taylor-Fletcher to prod home from close range three minutes into added time, but the Blues held on for a win that takes them to within two points of the summit.